October, 2007

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10/31 Fedwatcher II, you said regarding 24 pay:

re-emphasizing the fact that all four Southern California forests should be on the same page and collectively work together on such matters.

I agree, similar to when one retired Fire Chief and current Forest Supervisor on the ANF and other Forests are working on local pay raises, special pay and other benefits for Fire Employees they should include all of the 4 So. Cal Forests during those discussions. No Forest in So Cal should be working alone, however the trend lately seems to be to work on these issues in the shadows. Which is probably why no one Forest has been successful to date. If R-5 would like one big FAT Unfair Labor Practice, they only need to implement some kind of pay benefit/increase on one of the 4 So Cal Forests and exclude the other 3. We've only been doing special pay together to 18 years.

Lets work together people! And it starts with each of the 4 - Fire Chiefs, Forest Supervisors and Forest Captain Reps doing something as a TEAM!


10/31 Re: the Work Life Conference & other stuff:

It is hard, with all due respect, not to be cynical when I read about such conferences...especially when the leadership is apparently unwilling to hear the negative side of things and when their firefighters are putting their lives on the line through a series of hellacious firestorms. RK, you didn't mention whether Ed was at the conference...as he's been somewhat MIA for some time now.

The apparent unwillingness of the leadership to hear negative comments illustrates their reluctance to truly accept ideas for change. Further, to hold such a conference, (not quite sure who was invited...I guess the invitation to the FWFSA for their motivational speech got lost in the mail) during a time when FS firefighters continue to risk their lives in SoCal...some even losing their homes and personal property, speaks volumes of the seriousness in which the Agency takes such change.

Motivational Speaker??? I sure hope he/she developed a presentation on how to stay motivated while working for an Agency who chooses to keep its firefighters burdened by archaic pay & personnel policies.

Gosh, maybe the motivational speaker should have started "speaking" before the mass exodus to CAL-FIRE...

Cynical, sadly yes. Whether it is "management efficiencies" or some other buzz word to portray itself as an Agency interested in change, until real changes are made, all these conferences (Work Life Conference...what kind of title is that?? and how do firefighters relate to it?) and programs & projects etc., will be meaningless.

Until the Agency embraces & supports:

proper classification for its firefighters
stops diverting preparedness & fuels dollars to use on non-fire projects
stops misleading congress as to preparedness levels
properly compensates all of its firefighters and provides all of their firefighters with benefits
Allows those with fire experience & expertise to manage the fire program, not non-fire line officers

the status quo will remain until we force the change upon the Agency through Congressional education, awareness and action.

Perhaps I'm all screwed up and the conference was for Agency employees other than firefighters. Maybe that would make more sense.

Not trying to fire folks up... just truly tired of the empty facade of supposed change. I have had a number of phone conversations with congressional staff this week and all share the same feelings. Great... it is time for them to step up and do their job and effect change in the Agency if the Agency itself is unwilling to do so.

10/31 Ab,

I see the post. Why not anything negative? In my world if you really want to be the sounding board you hear everything whether you want to or not. That is the only way a successful two way communication can take place. Has Joe Stalin been resurrected or is another creative thinker like old Joe? In Joe’s world the opposition gov't taken out and shot. What is the new method of eliminating the opposition? I hope the World Life Conference isn’t the replacement. Why can’t we all say what we have to say. Is the First Amendment under a USFS restriction? I fought in two wars so we could all say what we think whether I like it or not. It still is my creed today. What say you all?


10/31 Thank you Lori, Mellie, and Wendy for doing such a great update job keeping everyone updated!

As Lori mentioned, we will be welcoming Ken home at LAX on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at, or around 1:30 p.m., barring any issues with his overseas flights. We’ll keep you posted if things change.

If you live in the area, please help us welcome back this awesome guy! Thank you to everyone who has pledged to Ken’s Run – you help us do so much with your support. It’s not too late to pledge a donation to Ken’s efforts.

Stay tuned for more Ken’s Sahara Run updates and for additional information for his WELCOME HOME!

Melissa Schwagerl, WFF

10/31 GGW,

There is a Work Life Conference going on in Sac. right now. Speakers yesterday included FS Chief Gail Kimball, Randy Moore, Lee Brown (a motivational speaker), Marilyn Manning, a conflict mediator who talked about facilitating positive change. There was small group work. Leaders did not want to hear anything negative. Most I heard obliged. May be more info when it's over...

As far as the agency for a new fire organization. It can't be FEMA or DHS. They are not high reliability organizations (HRO) that have a history or an interest in Lessons Learned. Department of Homeland Security is anything but transparent. FEMA that is made up of rather few simple citizens without any particular training, even has people that stage its own bogus press conferences... It has simply been a conduit for dispersing $$ after all.

We need warriors male and female who are willing to take a tough look and learn lessons, from the groundpounders among us to the highest managers, without CYA. That needs to be a working procedure that we all expect and embrace to be everything we can be.

RK, otherwise unnamed please

10/31 A couple of notes about Ken's Run. First, woo hoo to Ken for finishing the 4th stage of the race. It took a long time for the results to come up and a sigh of relief was expelled when I saw that he did it! The next stage will be the grueling one, so let's get some emails out to Ken and cheer him on!

Second, huge kudos to Tom Harbour and his wife for donating to Ken's Run. It's nice to see the fire leadership stepping up to the plate like that. Now, will we see other fire management follow suit? That sure would be nice......hint, hint.

For anyone that is interested - Ken will be arriving home on Tues. Nov 6th at LAX. I believe his plane arrives at 1:10pm. We would love to have a big crowd waiting to greet him and welcome him home - what a fantastic way to thank him for all he has done for the fire community. Melissa, Wendy and I will definitely be there with a few others hoping to make it barring any unforeseen situations arising. So, if you have the inclination, join us for the fun! The more, the merrier!!


Send a congratulatory or encouraging email, click the link below. www.4deserts.com/sahararace/rtpsrtp.php?SID=3&SBID=RC14 There's a dropdown menu - choose Perry, Kenneth C. and send him an email.

Some photos again:

runners (I think Ken is to the left, about 4th in and in the middle row with the tan cocky hat and quirky grin.)
white desert & stage2 in white desert
camels2.jpg & camel.jpg

10/31 Ken finished Stage 4! Whooooooooo hooooooooo! <virtual arm(s) up in victory sign>

Kenneth C. Perry Male <little USA flag> United States  06:47:56  08:47:59  07:37:28 07:18:05


Donate to Ken's Run; it's tax deductible: Wildland Firefighter Foundation. See who's pledged/donated.

10/31 So. Cal Preparedness:

Washington Fire Service still has 11 Type 1 and 3 ST's in the basin.
Most of us where at Harris Fire and are now en-route to Chino Staging.
Cal Fire and OES have been great to work with.
We'll stage and do some training exercises or whatever tasks are assigned.

We haven't forgot those families, friends and coworkers involved in the burn over.

Stay safe all; take care

Steve Westlake
10/31 fsff:

The LP and Cleveland have used their "emergency" 24 hour staffing plans which pays a firefighter for all 24 hrs "except" for three half hour meal breaks. A similar plan was developed on the ANF but for reasons unknown, the Forest Supervisor did not implement the plan despite it being with discussed with her recently.

Odd that it is remarkably similar to the concept of portal to portal.

The 24 hour "emergency" plans are not the same 24 hour staffing plan put out by some on the BDF and pitched to the RO in August along with Special Salary rate issues. The results of those meetings are unknown. The Regional Forester listened to the issues on August 10th then two days later he was gone.

The Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA) has had discussions with its members off the LP & ANF on the issue and supports the plan's use... re-emphasizing the fact that all four Southern California forests should be on the same page and collectively work together on such matters.

Fedwatcher II
10/31 From the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2293

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Governor Schwarzenegger Directs State Agencies to Prepare for Forecasted
Weekend Winds in Southern California

In preparation for the forecasted return of Santa Ana winds beginning
this Friday, Governor Schwarzenegger today directed the California
National Guard (CNG), California Department of Forestry and Fire
Protection (CAL FIRE) and Office of Emergency Services (OES) to
proactively prepare for a new round of fires in southern California.

Under the Governor's direction, these agencies have developed an
aggressive, tactical plan to pre-position staff and assets in areas
facing a high fire risk, based on weather projected for Friday through

"It's very important that we remain prepared and alert while there are
still fires burning in southern California," said Governor
Schwarzenegger. "This plan helps ensure that resources are strategically
placed and standing ready, prepared for whatever the weekend will bring.

"Our firefighters have done a tremendous job combating the blazes in
southern California. We are grateful for their continued dedication and
hard work in protecting our state."

CAL FIRE preparation for the Santa Ana winds threat includes deployment
of air tankers, tactical aircraft, helicopters, strike and dispatch
teams, and other assets to locations including Ramona, Hemet, Paso,
Porterville, Fresno, Victorville, Riverside and San Diego. CAL FIRE will
also deploy engine strike teams throughout the state, including San
Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles County, Santa Barbara
County and Kern County. In addition, OES will position strike teams in
Orange and Ventura counties.

The CNG will maintain a deployed presence of 1,500 guardsmen and six
firefighting helicopters to support ongoing response efforts. The CNG
will place additional forces on alert to be recalled if necessary to
support future missions.

CAL FIRE continues to adjust staffing and equipment patterns in
preparation for the weekend. CAL FIRE oversaw the fire resources used to
address 22 fires in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino,
Riverside and San Diego counties that began October 21. Four fires are
still burning.

10/31 Does anyone know about the FS fire meeting going on in Sacramento
where they're trying to get people to buy in to the "new FS direction"?


10/31 I understand that the LP implemented their "emergency" 24 hr staffing last winds event
that got approved by their Forest Supervisor. Did any other SoCal Forest do the same?
I know some of the Chiefs and Forest Sups were at the RO a few months ago discussing
this issue as well other issues. Another Santa Ana wind event coming this weekend.

10/31 Does anyone at WLF speak Spanish and have access to any of the Baja
California news publications?

I am looking for info on the fires in Baja that destroyed 60 houses in
Ensenada and 50 houses in Tijuana from Oct 21 - Oct 26, 2007.

From what I have been able to find out about past fires in the area, there
were similar losses in 2003 but more widespread. Some reports from 2003
included large fires that swept out of the Sierra San Pedro de Martir
mountains and burned houses in cities as well as outlying ranches.

Thanks in advance for any information.


Ab has copied and pasted two replies to Gizmo. More are welcome.

10/31 Ab,

We have posted a collection of fire perimeter maps of the Socal Fires - viewable in Google Earth or Google Maps on our website:


These overlays were created from data generated by the Teams on the fires. The Teams and Ca. OES have uploaded this data to the USGS Geomac web mapping service, http://wildfire.cr.usgs.gov.

Thanks/kudos to all of the Ops personnel, Field Observers, Infrared Interpreters, Drone Pilots, and GIS Techs that created this data.

- NorthTree Fire GIS
10/31 Re: FPA and IFPM: Shell Games

Makes me think back to the good old days....... Back when we could take a lunch break out on the line and get paid for it. That extra $5.00 made a huge difference as I could put in my pocket, knowing there was free jerky and sodas in camp......... God forbid we spend money on items that may actually boost morale. Some of these policy folks have forgotten the whole "win the battle, lose the war" philosophy. Here's one that could actually save some serious dough.......

While working with an Exclusive Use Type 1 helo this summer on the Zaca II, our contract shows that we pay per diem straight up for the entire crew, 4 people in this case. This helo was assigned to the fire for over 30 days with a per diem rate of $240.00 a day. That means, in 30 days, the government paid out $28,000.00 in per diem! I would get up each morning to ensure they got their FREE sack lunch AND knowing that several of them would camp out so that they could "pocket that per diem". Oh yeah, they really LOVED the free dinners and breakfasts in camp. Anything wrong with this picture? I know that all the shot crews, engine crews, etc would have appreciated that little "extra" dough. Think of all the jerky and sodas that we could buy! Heck, as ludicrous as it sounds we may have been able to hire an additional firefighter.........

Way to go policy makers! There is a forest in them trees!

10/31 Thanks for the kind comments Radar.

Be sure though to not confuse the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

CBO provides oversight and offers suggestions on the budget for the legislative branch, primarily Congress.

OMB provides oversight and offers suggestions on the budget for the executive branch agencies.

10/30 Just a heads up. It was brought to my attention that some people are writing comments to Ken on his blog page. Unfortunately, Ken can't read those messages. If you want to send him a message, make sure you send him an email. Here is the link in case you don't have it:


Wow, we just had an earthquake! How much fun can I have this week? Following Ken on his race, thunder and lightning last night and now this. It was a 5.6 centered near San Jose. Anyone else feel it?

10/30 A "DESERT RUNNER DUDE" ADVENTURE MESSAGE from the Sahara Desert::
from Ken's Blog, Stage 3:

Ocean of sand
30-Oct-2007 05:30:10 AM [(GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada); Tijuana]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2007

Today was a good day. I don't think that my time was really much better than yesterday, but from a morale standpoint, it was a good day.

The day took us into the most vast area of sand than I've ever seen. "Incredible beauty in absolute nothingness" was the term that came to my mind. But in all of this nothingness... there were butterflies. How they got here, and why, seems to be the big question amongst us all. They would flutter around the pink flags marking the course, thinking I suppose they were flowers.

Once we crossed through about 4 miles or so of this ocean, we began climbing a Dragon's back of sand-dunes. Up and down this razor back ridge of... yes, you've guessed it.... sand.

Oh and I got to spend a few moments scratching the ears of a camel. That was pretty cool.

Tomorrow should be another 30 odd KM day, starting out in more sand, and then maybe hardening up (the ground) towards the end of the day, and apparently ending at an Oasis, from which we will have unlimited water from a spring to do a wash before the big day.

I've gotten a few pics (my card is nearly full) but the staff photog is everywhere from the gore of the med tent to the night campfire.... to the Ocean of Sand.

Love you Hon. Kiss the kids for me.

Peace, KCP

Some photos, posted temporarily, from the racing website for those of you with dialup... Ken will have more when he's done.

runners (I think Ken is to the left, about 4th in and in the middle row with the tan cocky hat and quirky grin.)
white desert & stage2 in white desert
camels2.jpg & camel.jpg

10/30 Lobotomy,

You are nailing it Right On. Yes, the GAO and CBO (Congressional Budget Office) asked why is it costing so much each year and fatalities. We had our Best and Brightest Leaders put together the NFP with the assumption that those leaders would be around to implement the plan. Congress wants and needs numbers that mean something. Remember, they want to deliver stuff back to the home district besides smoke, mirrors, a shell and no pea.

The group that put the NFP together moved on and the New Chief said, "Can Do". Instead of re-assembling that group to develop a FPA and the IFPM, we got all new players. No ownership. Got to deal with other pending issues in land management. Now almost 5 years after several attempts to jump start these programs, there are another set of players.

Who's taken ownership? The only folks that I know are the ground pounders. They have done what has been asked of them with less and have gone beyond the call of duty. Forcing lunch, cutting staffing, reducing funding, consolidation, reprogramming, etc...... What a way to run a Land Management Agency. You want to find waste and abuse? Go to the top and work your way down.

Hugh, We came along during a much simpler time. It's "Complex" now.


10/30 From Firescribe:

Spy planes, computers play key firefighting roles
The Press-Enterprise

Flying at 60,000 feet, a large unmanned jet loaded with computers and high-tech cameras has played a major role in helping fire officials from Lake Arrowhead to the Mexico border combat Southern California's wildfires.

The Global Hawk, about the size of a Boeing 737, is part of a fleet of at least five military reconnaissance aircraft that since Oct. 23 have been transmitting images used to find hot spots and assess damage.

The fleet also includes a Vietnam War-era U-2 spy plane and another unmanned aircraft, NASA's Ikhana

The planes, equipped with infrared cameras, GPS units and digital imaging computers, will be used to scout potential landslide areas once the fires are out.

Similar aircraft were used after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as well as such natural disasters as the 2003 Cedar Fire in San Diego County and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

But in natural disasters, they've never been used to the degree they are now being used in the war on the wildfires, said Cal Fire Capt. Mike Wilson, a mapping specialist and assistant fire marshal from Napa County. (click the link above for more)

10/30 Ab,

I have not been down to see the burned firefighters in the hospital in San Diego. I will
probably go when things settle down for them. I think they’ll be there for a while.

I want folks to know they can send donations for those firefighters in the burn center
to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation at www.wffoundation.org and we will forward
the funds, or folks can send them directly to:

CDF Firefighter Benevolent Foundation
1731 J Street, Suite 100
Sacramento CA 95811
(916) 609-8700

I know from being around the burn centers that the money these families will need adds
up quickly. So let’s all help.

We also have two wildland firefighters who have lost their homes; one on the San
Bernardino, the other on the Cleveland. Both families have two small children.

My staff and I are giving beyond what the Foundation is giving.

Tom Harbor, do you think it’s a coincidence that a guy from your church met up with
Ken Perry in Egypt? God wants me to tell you to put up a pledge for Ken’s Run…….

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
10/30 A "DESERT RUNNER DUDE" ADVENTURE MESSAGE from the Sahara Desert::

The third stage of 23.6 miles (38.5 K) has been completed with Ken running it in 7:27:38. He accomplished this with the temps being 110+. Great going Ken!! Have you sent your email to Ken yet? It's easy and I know that Ken would love the encouragement. Tomorrow is the last "easy" stage (Stage 4, about 25 miles) before the runners start their 2 day stage of the course. Stage 5 is about 58 miles (~93 K) and competitors may race through the night into the next day.

Send those emails to help Ken get through this!


Ken had to get over massive sand dunes toward the end of today's run -- in the heat, no doubt it's quite wearing. Total distance he's run in the three stages so far: 71.2 miles (114K). Send a congratulatory or encouraging email, click the link below. www.4deserts.com/sahararace/rtpsrtp.php?SID=3&SBID=RC14 There's a dropdown menu - choose Perry, Kenneth C. and send him an email. I just did it again. It's incredibly simple to do. Join the support team. Simple. Ab.

10/30 A "DESERT RUNNER DUDE" ADVENTURE MESSAGE from the Sahara Desert::

Stage 3 complete!

Kenneth C. Perry Male <little USA flag> United States 06:47:56 08:47:59 07:37:28


Go Ken, way to hang in there!
to Ken's Run: Wildland Firefighter Foundation. See who's pledged/donated.

10/30 Re: FPA and IFPM: Shell Games

Fire Program Analysis (FPA) and Interagency Fire Program Management (IFPM) were indeed as a fix offered by the administration, not by Congress as some distort. They surely weren't offered by wildland fire professionals either.

Congress was getting concerned and asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the reasons for skyrocketing costs of wildland fire suppression and why accidents kept happening. They also commissioned studies to find why the National Fire Plan wasn't working as Congress and the public intended in improving the safety of our communities and the health of our wildlands.

The fixes offered were IFPM and FPA. They also took away "beef jerky, sodas, and supplemental items" as a supposed root causes....... and instructed IIMTs to ensure that firefighters were taking uncompensated meal breaks even though they were on the fireline in direct violation of Title 5.........

All Congress got in return, year after year from Mark Rey and Lynn Scarlett was talking points and shell games..... Paraphrased: 'We are able to reduce our preparedness and prevention costs through "management efficiencies" and this will not affect our suppression costs or ability to respond'. Records on File in the Congressional Record. We have a "can do" culture and we will fix that says the new Chief.........

Simple answers:
  1. Political appointees to the Secretary levels of the land management agencies (USDA, DOI)*,
  2. Political appointees to the Under-Secretary levels of the land management agencies (USDA, DOI)**,
  3. Political appointees to the Assistant Under-Secretary levels of the land management agencies (USDA, DOI)**, and
  4. Political appointees of the Agency Heads of USFS, FWS, NPS, BIA, and BLM ***, and
  5. Senior Executive Service (SES) "employees" serving in key subordinate staff positions and having to answer to #'s 1-4 above and having SES requirements as part of their jobs.........
  6. People being "groomed" for positions 1-5 (above) that have no clue about the complexities of the federal wildfire problem and program.... but have a chance of being salvaged as the Forest Service says, "The Greater Good".

FEMA did a great thing..... they put a firefighter and former fire chief in charge.


* Usually attorneys. Many times, former campaign contributors, lobbyists, or heads of companies or corporations with a financial interest.

** Many attributes of the above but with less influence. Many have served as "Professional Staff Member" or analyst positions with either Senators or Representatives in key positions of "oversight", or those that helped in policy direction, or election activities.

*** Folks who were groomed for their positions and won't talk out when programs are circling the drain. They report to "*" and "**" above.

Those in positions #5 and #6 above have a chance to make a change and break the bureaucracy to meet the Agency missions..... the intent of Congress....... and the intent of the American people.

P.S. - Hugh, great to see you back talking about "Swiss Cheese" and in the community. I still disagree with you that the causal chain starts with the individuals act or omission though..... and HFACS isn't Swiss Cheese..... Dr. Reason's "Swiss Cheese" model was always intended to build a better 'cockpit'....... 'pilots' will always make human errors, AND IF the cockpit around them is inherently unsafe, dysfunctional, or not meeting the need of the flight mission...

10/29 Reading the replies with interest... to "A Firefighting Force for the Nation?"

On another note: Those who might be helping the kids cope with the socal fires, here are a couple of good resources:

Helping Children After a Wildfire, Tips for Parents and Teachers

Responding to Natural Disasters: Helping Children and Families. Information for School Crisis Teams.


10/29 Mellie,

You've asked a timely question. As a retired Red Trucker, I think the Agency responsible for fighting fires should be a Fire Department with Resource managers as technical specialists, not vice versa.

You asked for opinion... in my opinion you saw such an Agency functioning last week in Southern California. The evacuation of almost a million people and the handling of Qualcomm Stadium was not an accident. In some areas, such as Los Angeles and Orange County, the local or County Government were able to provide services while in San Diego, CDF and local Fire Districts were the providers and on Federal land, the USFS and the Military lead the fight. The amalgamation of agencies is Southern California is a result of many years of working together on a common problem.

You're seeing a similar situation develop in the Reno/Tahoe area, where the Sierra Front organization is fighting more and more interface fires.

The leadership and many of the rank and file of the USFS has resisted change, but change is coming. Changing climate and populations will require different strategies and tactics. Other factors such as the introduction of OSHA or even Unionization will force change.

If the USFS or any of the Wildland Fire Agencies cannot change with the times, they will be forced out or into the second seat by an Agency capable of providing those services.


10/29 For Mellie & Nerd...

Nerd certainly expresses my sentiments as well when he wrote his last post.
Mellie has produced some great thoughts for us all to ponder.

I don't think that having ANY PART of the Federal Government being "in charge" of a National Fire Department is wise.

  • There are far too many different areas of this country with their own fuel types and inherent problems associated with them.
  • Weather patterns are far too different for one part of the nation to understand what another's seasonal expectations are.
  • The overwhelming bureaucracy that comes with such a tasking is self defeating and will gobble tax dollars for years prior to it ever becoming a reality.

Time, effort and funding would be better expended on having the State's recognizing each other's strength's AND weaknesses and adopting a nation wide mutual aid/training/response... but isn't that what ICS was supposed to be all about?

Some States have accomplished this but there are still far too many who chose to disregard the system and as such have fallen behind in their attempts at modernization.

Perhaps we should take the lessons learned from Katrina and DEMAND that all emergency agencies that serve the public's safety come up to date and adopt the recognized ICS.

Now THAT would be a good start for the Federal Government if it wants to help improve our nation's fire fighting forces.


10/29 Midwest FMO,

Attached is a pdf file (52 Kb) of the 2005 IFPM complexity ratings and raw scores for every unit from the 5 federal agencies. The graphs at the end of the document show how the USFS ratings skew the bell curve distribution towards high complexity.

I got this originally in response to forwarding a question I had never thought to ask. Pretty interesting stuff, in a Nerd sort of way.

vfd cap'n

It would be interesting to see the original IFPM-created rating scale. The skew is likely inherent in complexity of the types of lands/locations the Forest Service oversees. I noticed the FS has the most units with 112 of the 383 units, the BIA has 87, the NPS has 70, the FWS has 68 and the BLM has 47. (My numbers are off by 1 unit too high, go figure.) Ab.

10/29 Mellie;

What a fascinating and timely question. I think one big issue is the need to streamline getting resources to responders.

You ask what federal agency should be in charge;
I don’t see a good candidate.

  • The Department of Homeland Security is a Franken-bureaucracy soon to collapse under its own weight and the weight of public expectation.
  • FEMA is not and never was a response agency; it’s a funding vehicle.
  • The USFS and BLM, with all due respect, are too … geographically defined to effectively fight interface fires.
  • Local resources (I include paid, volunteer, and contract resources) are vulnerable to local politics which make it difficult to enforce consistent quality standards.

I’m going to display my local prejudices and say that the answer isn’t going to come from the federal level, not in terms of a firefighting force; the firefighting forces are going to have to be local, to have local awareness of conditions and politics.

I think that federal resources will have to come as supplementary resources, to ensure quick and efficient funding of local firefighting efforts, and to supply specialist personnel and equipment. Federal resources are also going to have to step in and ensure uniformity and best practices among interface departments.

Right now, the major force protecting best practices and standards for structural firefighting is the ISO, which is a private organization. NFPA approves equipment and writes best practices, ISO, through their rating system, enforces them. ISO ratings control funding, but most funding, through the current grant processes, comes as the result of self-reported behaviors. There is no federal fire department inspection apparatus. I think that would be a good first step; not a federal firefighting force, but a federal fire department administration, to enforce compliance with NFPA standards and ensure accurate reporting for funding purposes. I think that would go a long way to evening out the quality and interoperability of interface resources.

Nerd on the Fireline

P.S. I have escaped from academia and the Pacific Northwest and am now back in the corporate world, in the northern Great Basin. I see miles and miles of charred sagebrush on my way home from work every day, and I am very much looking forward to next summer. Here’s to the good fires…small, remote, just complex enough to be interesting and fought safely and efficiently with good friends and respected colleagues.

Glad you're back Nerd. Ab.

10/29 A "DESERT RUNNER DUDE" ADVENTURE MESSAGE from the Sahara Desert:

From White to Black
29-Oct-2007 04:18:51 AM [(GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada); Tijuana]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2007

, so Okay, we are still having difficulties with the satellite hook up, and I just lost a longer blog. So, I am going to make this fairly quick.

It's day 2. 26 miles today (21 yesterday). This place is absolutely incredible. They should have pictures and films on the website soon. It is HOT! And today there was no wind, so it was just brutal.

At check-point 2 one of the volunteers, a kid named Dave came up to me and said he had a message for me from Tom Harbor. Huh? Turns out they go to the same church. Small world...even in this never ending place.

I'm getting pretty banged up. Feet are going to be hamburger by the time it's all over, I'm sure. The quest now is simply to see the Sphinx. However I can get there.

I've got to let some of the other competitors get in the blog site, so I'll get back on soon.

I love you Hon. Kiss the kids for me.

Peace, KCP

Ken said to take messages from his blog, so I have. Ab.

10/29 I've been thinking about
  • the SoCal Firestorm, about
  • firefighting connected with natural resources and natural weather forces, about
  • firefighting connected with ever-increasing numbers of structures on the interface that are their own fuel type, about
  • the (potential) increase in frequency of fires associated with drought, bug kill and climate change (whether in the West or in GA) and about
  • America's needs for an easy-to-mobilize, efficient interface structure and wildland firefighting force.

What would be the ideal firefighting force be that could provide for our emerging needs as a nation?


  • What federal agency would those firefighters come under the auspices of?
  • What systems would need to be in place so those forces & that agency could cut through the bureaucratic hurdles to fight fire on the interface of cities and communities across the country?
  • What other federal, state, county and private forces -- like military aviation -- would we need to draw on at the drop of a hat?
  • How would such cooperators be trained and equipped regarding communication, etc? Would military cooperators be required to have fire specialists on board?
  • Would there be a branch of these fire forces that handled any large emergency? Is NIFC the best federal organization to be providing, training and funding fire forces that we are coming to need?

Most of you know my blood runs green and I come from a natural resources background before my stress psychology background, but I think we need to be asking and exploring answers to these questions.

At the moment, this is what's been going around in my head.
If we get off "turf" differences.
If we get off state or location differences.
If we get off politics and media and the blame game...

What would our ideal firefighting force or incident managing force look like? What can we do to create that?


10/29 A "DESERT RUNNER DUDE" ADVENTURE MESSAGE from the Sahara Desert:

Ken stage 2

Kenneth C. Perry Male <American flag> United States 06:47:56 08:47:59

stage 2 was 26.1 miles, in the blistering heat!


If you want to send a congratulatory or encouraging email, click the link below. www.4deserts.com/sahararace/rtpsrtp.php?SID=3&SBID=RC14 There's a dropdown menu - just choose Perry, Kenneth C. and send him an email. I just did it again. It's incredibly simple to do. Join the support team. It's easy. Ab.

10/29 Great news!!

Ken has finished the second stage with a time of 8:47:59. Way to go Ken.

Don't forget to send those emails everyone!!!

I hear tell that the temps were really scorching on this stage. I guess it's a good
thing that Ken likes to run in the heat! :-)


Run, Ken, Run.
to Ken's Run: Wildland Firefighter Foundation. See who's pledged/donated.

10/29 from the hotlist:

Radiant Heat vs Firebrands

Ab, here's a 9 minute video of several large houses -closely packed -going up in Green Valley on the Slide (Arrowhead area) fire.

It's clear that to the fire, houses are just another fuel type and that even a pile of firewood along the road or in the driveway is a potential problem for carrying flames. It's also clear that as the other videos showed, houses can withstand a lot more heat before igniting than human beings can. The photographer lets you know how hot it is and when he has to move back.

At some point a red engine comes in and the firefighters decide which house to try to save.



10/28 Mellie,

I can't argue with you. FPA competed with NFMAS in the dismal failure department. How much did politics and personality play into the NFMAS models? My point is that budget allocation is yet to be based on land management needs and fire management program complexity. I always have thought that a few experienced fire managers could have come up with a simple workable budget allocation system that made sense.

10/28 Some more notes from the Racing the Planet Daily Update

(Sahara Desert, Egypt) The Sahara Race got underway today at 08h30 as 73 international competitors took to the sand in epic fashion -- camels yawping and drums beating – to start stage one of six of their 250-kilometer journey. Their first stage was a 21.5-mile-long leg that meandered across white stone bolder fields and long stretches of beige sand. (snip)

<one leading runner said> “It was good, especially to start, but then it got hot” (snip)

During the afternoon the racers each took their turn coming through the four checkpoints, then heading toward the finish line, with many running out of water during between the second and third sites due to the excessive heat. (snip)

“It’s not like we train for this sort of thing in the UK with our weather,” said Crispin, who took fifth overall, sitting in the new camp which has been relocated to the heart of the White Desert. “It was hot out there.

It is easy to email Ken. I did.
I hope he has electrolytes to mix with his water.

Can anyone point Ken out in this photo of Sahara Racers? Where's Ken?
(for comparison, here's Ken leaving socal with all our pledges/donations)


10/28 A "DESERT RUNNER DUDE" ADVENTURE MESSAGE from the Sahara Desert:

From Wendy:

Ken finishes stage 1

> From the leader board: Ken finished the first leg (I don't know how many
miles it was!) and is in 35th place. Keep sending in those emails!


35 Kenneth C. Perry M United States 06:47:56 status: active

Good news, Wendy and Lori. Readers, if you want to send a congratulatory or encouraging email, click the link above.

There's a dropdown menu - just choose Perry, Kenneth C. and send him an email. I just did it. It's incredibly simple to do. It would be great if we sent him a bazillion emails tonight and every night. Motivation counts for a lot in the desert and on the fireline.

I looked and here's the poop on mileage for Stage 1:
21.9 miles // 35 kilometers

Run, Ken, Run! Ab.

10/28 I went to the Sahara Race site to check out how Ken fared his first day out. Ken completed the course in 6:47:56 and was in 35th place out of 76 people. Nicely done Ken. Keep up the good work and take it easy on your ankle. Everyone please remember to send Ken emails - I know he would love to hear from all of you!!

10/28 Gizmo

I wonder how long it will take IFPM to also go the way of the Dodo Bird, much like FPA. Both programs and associated models never came from the wildland fire community. Both programs added to the confusion and eventual bankruptcy of the federal wildland fire program.

The IFPM complexity exercise was used to determine minimum grade levels. Having worked through that for my unit I would be very surprised that most of the federal land management units in the west did not rate as medium or higher. I can't access the IFPM web site (FS systems appear to be down) but I recall that what lead to this was the need to have highly skilled "wildfire" management organizations for the federal land management agencies. This was identified as a critical need for firefighter safety following the South Canyon fire. The 14 key positions were identified by the "wildfire" management staff of the federal agencies. These were the same people that wanted to use S-courses for college credit. Unfortunately the agencies overstepped their bounds and where trumped by OPM on the S-course issue (who rightly or wrongly has authority over such matters) .

While congress ended FPA, it also said "Try again" and has not relented in its mandate to the federal agencies to come up with a common budget allocation system. One briefing paper I saw said congress wanted a system on line for March 2008. Current options they are using; 1 a system developed by the USFS, 2 another developed by the BLM 3 a hybrid of either of these two or 4 a completely different critter.

FPA was a train on a track to oblivion many of the folks out at the local and regional level knew it. It took 3 years (and millions of $'s) before reality stopped that train.

IFPM continues to cause consternation but I think history will show that for the most part it was a positive step. It will continue to evolve and as it runs into realities. I still predict the labor lawyers will make out very well when the 2009 deadline hits.

FPA and IFPM may evolve but they will not go the way of the Dodo.

Side note - Thursday afternoon resource orders for engines made it all the way to eastern area. Don't recall that happening before in October.

Midwest FMO

10/28 Hi Ab,

The “Professor” KCK is referring to was serious contender for the CDF Directors job until CDF Firefighters got involved and suggested that CDF needed a professional fire administrator with a proven performance background. Only then did he get eliminated. His continuing friendships with prominent Republicans with Texas ties is probably the reason for this sudden re-emergence here in this context. There are a lot of wannabees out there but this does take the cake. His wealth of knowledge about the fire situation in this state is highly questionable to me. The statements he makes also add to my suspicions about his true intent. I see it as self serving.


10/28 A "DESERT RUNNER DUDE" ADVENTURE MESSAGE from the Sahara Desert:

--- RacingThePlanet <info @ racingtheplanet.com> wrote:

>> To: desertrunnergirl @ yahoo.com
>> Subject: Sahara Race (Egypt) 2007 Breaking News
>> From: RacingThePlanet <info @ racingtheplanet.com>
>> Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2007 10:15:19 -0700


Stage 1, Oct. 28, 12h40: Andrew Murray of Scotland
crossed the finish line in first place under 4 hours.
Sandra McCallum of Canada placed first in the women's
division. All but four have now crossed the finish
line (the rest are expected shortly). [Satellite
communications were down for the majority of the day,
but are expected to be fully operational on Stage 2.]

Donate to Ken's Run: Wildland Firefighter Foundation. See who's pledged/donated.


Orange County Fire Authority (ORC)
Twelve Firefighters Deploy Fire Shelters – All Twelve Survive Uninjured
October 22, 2007
Santiago Incident CA-ORC-07068555

This Preliminary Summary Report is intended as an aid in accident prevention, and to provide factual information within a short time frame. Information contained within may be subject to revision as further investigation is conducted, and other reports and documents are received.


Twelve OCFA firefighters were advancing a progressive hose lay on a hillside near a road cut along Santiago Canyon Road in eastern Orange County (Unincorporated). Upon reaching the top of the 200-foot hill, their hose line apparently ruptured, causing them to run out of water. As fire encroached upon their position, the firefighters deployed their fire shelters, and all twelve firefighters escaped injury.


A wildland fire was reported near Santiago Canyon and Silverado Canyon at 1755 on 10/21/07. .........

The whole thing is posted on the hotlist...

10/28 Some very cool and instructive fire videos (You Tube), sent in by Lobotomy:

Interview with Jack Cohen, Fire Sciences Researcher, Fire Sciences Lab, Missoula, Mt.
Radiant Heat Versus Firebrands (embers)
Very interesting. Ab.

Inside the Running Springs Fire
This is on Wilderness Rd near Hiway 18.
Choking smoke, searing heat, zero visibility.
Mandatory evacs in this area really are warranted. Without protective fire gear this would be deadly.

10/28 More video and story from Running Springs from Guy M

Running Springs, California, early Tuesday October 23 2007.

Video at

Story at

10/28 jimhart,

Here is what some "Professors" resort to:

Experts Available to Discuss Southern Wildfires A Press release to sell themselves and their views to the needy press.

Looks a lot like a "hire me" CV..... A "I need work" classified add capitalizing on the current fire conditions. The person involved lost his privileges at the UC and CS system schools and a federal contract "for cause".

Looking at the national news the last few days, it looks like he was hired again by many folks as a consultant..... and he must have a friend in the Cal Poly programs who allowed his "visiting scholar" status.

There is another fraudulent clone out there also getting big press by the name of Minnich who is a geographer......... <snip>, but his stuff somehow keeps making it to the daily bylines as "factual" to the wildland fire community........

Really shameful.

10/27 Letterman, airtac, and Mellie,

You are correct on my mistake... I have been gathering and participating in so many things and complexity ratings, I forgot where the data came from.

I've long known that data can be manipulated.... facts can't.

I wonder how long it will take IFPM to also go the way of the Dodo Bird, much like FPA. Both programs and associated models never came from the wildland fire community. Both programs added to the confusion and eventual bankruptcy of the federal wildland fire program.

10/27 air, giz and Mellie,

The complexity analysis related to and completed for IFPM not FPA. Units
were either low, mod or high. I think all R-5 forests were classified as high.
I cant recall a complexity analysis development (low mod or high) with FPA.
However it's been a year since I pushed the any FPA buttons.


10/27 CB

Totally with you. Lets not forget all the other agencies out working fires all year long. How about we also not forget the contract resources out watching everyone's back while the agency resources rush off to the latest biggest fire. I'm currently protecting homes from a prescribed burn that the USFS left burning to go rush off to SoCal.

Doesn't bother me; I've become used to being treated like a 'snake'. We could all b*tch if we wanted to.

Ima Contractor
10/27 From Firescribe:

Burned firefighter anticipated dying

Good article. Only part that doesn't quite jive with my notes from e-mailer is that the FS helo pilot (H-538) that flew out the 3 burned firefighters and 2 residents didn't find Pikop later, although he did transport him. Another firefighter found him. My best wishes for recovery. It is good to see a picture of Andrew. Ab.

10/27 Hi airtac,

I may be incorrect. I do not have my notes available, but if the complexity analysis was any
part of the the program that was supposed to replace NFMAS, it was a costly, dismal failure.


10/27 Gizmo,

I don't have access to the numerical ratings from the complexity analysis's anymore. Maybe a fire planner type could provide some of those numbers. It surprised me when I saw the ratings at the time. The explanation I received then was that the highest complexity units were those that had challenges related to large activity fuel programs, large landscape level natural fuel treatment programs, concurrent with high fire occurrence workloads, and large fire use use programs. In other words, units that had complex integrated "fire management programs", compared to units that were limited primarily to "suppression". I am certainly not knocking any programs in SZ. The program is whatever the land management plan requires. I was only suggesting that the politics often have more to do with the complexity than the actual land management and fire management need.

I always admire your comments. You obviously have a great deal of wisdom and fire savvy that I suspect you earned the hard way. Thanks.

10/27 Gotta send something else from my reading, if only because this opinion piece in tomorrow's
Washington Post is written by someone with deep roots in the fire community (Steve Pyne).


Blazes on the New Frontier

By Steve Pyne
Sunday, October 28, 2007; Page B01

It takes only a whiff of smoke for it all to return. Sensations deeper than memory. The streaks of flame. The throb of heat. The gusts of smoke, twisting white and black like exhausted whirlwinds. A rush of adrenaline that can blow your head off. A fatigue so profound that it can rearrange your chromosomes. The sense of a world in such commotion that it seems to slow.

The big fire.

Most fires aren't big, and most wildland firefighting is a world of routine jobs and small blazes. It's a life of coming to know a place through its fires as a naturalist might know it through its flowers or mammals. In the deep backcountry, away from lodges and roads, the chief skill is just finding the fire -- a smoking snag, a smoldering stump. Only if that first attack fails does the firefight scale up into a campaign that resembles nothing so much as the moral equivalent of war. It's an intoxicating life, full of flame and fortune.

(for more, click the link)

Still Out There as an AD

10/27 Blame 2007

There was once a respected institution that protected public lands in Southern California called the US Forest Service. It had a premier firefighting force that was admired the world round. They stopped fires and saved lives.

How things have changed. It took longer than it did during the Cedar fire, but the finger pointers are at it again.

The US Forest Service is now blamed for causing all these huge wildfires by putting out the “little ones.” Shame on them! Didn’t they know they should have just let them burn until the flames were about to threaten some valuable asset?

“Because we've had fire suppression all these years, all we have left is huge areas of equally old chaparral,” said Michael Barbour, a professor at UC Davis. “That's why these fires are so big. There is no patch of recently burned chaparral to stop it,"

Odd isn’t it that huge portions of the Cedar, Paradise, and Otay fire scars from 2003 re-burned in the Witch and Harris fires in San Diego County this past week? Dang firefighters! If they just hadn’t suppressed all those grass fires over the past four years these flames would have been nipped in the bud. Wait! Most of that land was under municipal and state jurisdiction. So it’s the CDF’s fault for putting out all those little fires! Stupid little firefighters trying to fight fire.

“How much longer is this society going to continue to believe that they can stop fires with their Tonka toys?” says Richard Minnich, a geography professor at UC Riverside.

Tonka toys? Men and women risked their lives trying to save homes and lives over this past week. Signs on street corners say “Thank God for Firefighters!" And yet, some continue to heap disrespect on those whose only desire is to help others.

Thanks to quick thinking, government agencies pulled off some awesome evacuations in San Diego County. They had learned from the Cedar fire that wind-driven fires can prove to be very deadly.

"Some people believe that horrific brushland fires are wind-driven events. They are wrong,” says Tom Bonnicksen, a retired (looking for a new job) professor from A&M University.

The fact that repeated fires in the same area have caused ecological disasters throughout many areas in California shrublands is known by firefighters, but somehow has been missed by these professors.

"Science shows that brushlands are resilient, no matter how often fires burn or how hot the fire,” Bonnicksen said during another one of his enlightened moments. What kind of science is this guy looking at?

I for one am sick and tired of having professors who have never been on the fireline, much less bothered to check their conclusions with those who have, spitting out press releases and pandering to the press after every fire in order to get their name in lights. I’m sick and tired of hearing these professors bash the US Forest Service for doing its job over the years. And I’m sick and tired of hearing these professors twist events and science to conform to their pet theories.

I’ll really feel sorry for these guys if they spout off one their self serving, ego-gratifying, financially lucrative opinions about fire in a meeting I happen to attend in the future. My days for being diplomatic are over.


10/27 Just an update that member companies of the NWSA have been getting orders since Thursday from Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Northern California, Montana and are sending crews, engines, time keepers, timber faller teams, and other misc. resources to help out our fellow firefighters in Southern California. Hope that everyone remains safe, and our prayers are with the injured folks down there.

We are glad that we are able to join in the workforce, and help out those folks already there that may need a break.

Debbie Miley

Thanks Debbie. Ab.

10/27 Some of the better reporting about the SoCal fires came from Wall Street Journal. Most of their content is by subscription so I wasn't able to provide any links. I appreciated their story late in the week about some dude that's been out to save the chaparral and now after these fires, he's rethinking his position!

Their lead editorial today said much of what we've discussed here regarding the need for insurers to take some responsibility for backing people who build in the interface.

The editorial also pushes local government (who make the zoning decisions!) to take up more of the fire costs. "Since 1992, the Forest Service's fire expenditures have grown by 450%, and well over half of that has been spent protecting private property next to public land." The editorial concludes with: "And that means holding homeowners, developers, states and local communities more accountable."

That's quite different from all those people telling the TV cameras that the feds didn't do enough!

Still Out There as an AD

--- RacingThePlanet <info @ racingtheplanet.com> wrote:

>> To: desertrunnergirl @ yahoo.com
>> Subject: Sahara Race (Egypt) 2007 Breaking News
>> From: RacingThePlanet <info @ racingtheplanet.com>
>> Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2007 10:45:32 -0700

Pre-Race, 10.26.07, 19h41: The athletes arrive at Camp
1 after a 7.5-hr drive through the desert!
Anticipation grows for an 8am start time!


Wendy is getting official emails from the group that organized and supports Ken's run. Excellent! Ab.

RacingThePlanet <info @ racingtheplanet.com> wrote:

>> To: desertrunnergirl@yahoo.com
>> Subject: Sahara Race (Egypt) 2007 Breaking News
>> From: RacingThePlanet <info@racingtheplanet.com>
>> Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2007 01:30:42 -0700

Pre-Race, 10.26.07, 10:29am: 73 athletes completed
check-in and are boarding a bus for the Sahara Desert.
Race starts tomorrow!

RUN KEN RUN! Donate to Ken's run. Donations go to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. See who's pledged/donated. Hop in and contribute, folks.

We need the WFF. Bad things happen to good people. "There but for the grace of god (or the fates) go we." Our families deserve to have their way smoothed, heaven forbid, if such an event occurs. (I just wrote the response to the post below, which certainly brings the reality home to me...) Ab.

10/27 Notification of news agencies


I'm still on my crusade to get the WFF info out to the public for donation solicitations.
In reading "they said", you reference knowing Al and that he now works for NBC News SW Bureau.

Would it be possible to ask HIM to spread the word?

Good luck, keep up the great job.

PS - Are there ANY general updates that can be provided on the condition of the burned firefighters? Initial reports said critical, with inhalation burns. Don't need/want names - just concerned & hoping for some good news...



Hi capellocpa, thank you for getting the word out in support of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF). Thanks also to Sbrrymom. I'll try to reply to your emails today.

Regarding our burned CalFire comrades, you're not the only ones asking. Here's what I know.

I did hear from some firefighter friends that the four that were burned over on the Harris fire were transported to the UCSD burn center.

One female and one male are critical condition with lung burns. They were in induced coma to allow best healing. I believe they've been taken off the coma-inducing drug, perhaps yesterday or the day before. I would like to know how they're doing now.

The other two who are not critical but will be a time healing... One (Capt) has 1st degree burns to his face and 2nd degree burns to his hands. The other, a firefighter who has worked as a firefighter for less than 6 months, has 2nd degree to parts of his face and 1st degree to back, elbows, legs. My thoughts and prayers are with them and with those who helped rescue.

Our great thanks to the WFF for its presence and constancy in support. Kudos to CalFire which does a great job with supporting their own and the families as well.


10/27 more praises

I have been with the fire community since 1974 as a forest service fire fighter, prevention and recreation tech, currently a member of one of the CIIMTs. I did not work the Firestorm of 2007 in southern ca this time because I did not want to lose my house a second time. I was under mandatory evacuation for sometime, but refused to let it happen again and did everything I could to save it, and it worked.

Now to the meat of the subject. We all sing the praises of the fire fighter, but nothing is said of the dispatchers of CNF and Monte Vista, I had 2 scanners working non-stop for 4 days. The people of dispatch did an outstanding job of reporting and organizing an attack on several incidents at the same time. Good job and may you get some much needed rest before the next siege.

A Dollar Short and a Day Late

Thanks to all the Dispatchers out there, often unrecognized and under-appreciated, but ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL to the firefighting effort, and often de facto playing the role of IC in their allocation of resources in the breaking stages of IA. Ab.

10/27 Ab,

As of Friday morning, 27 ODF personnel, and 1 Type 6 Engine have dispatched to Southern
California. Pretty doggone good for a small state agency, at the end of a very busy fire season.


No kidding. Good job. And thanks Kellie for your photo to be in the 2008 Wildlandfire Calendar. Ab.

10/27 airtac,

You said, "Most SZ forests (which is where most of the resources are kegged up), rated a relatively low complexity compared to many programs in other states."

Could you please explain? I don't think I am following your statement? The only "Forest" that even comes close is Savannah River Plant which isn't even a National Forest. It is a DOE nuclear power plant facility with the surrounding wildland protected by the Forest Service.

If I am remembering correctly, each and every forest in California was rated as "High Complexity" several years ago as the initial FPA complexity analysis' were completed.

You also said, "Don't think this is solely because of the fire management mission needs in CA ..." in reference to the proportion of firefighters available.

Please understand that the State of California has the largest number of acres of NFS protected lands in the United States. The NFS lands in California also have the largest amounts of WUI and values at risk.

Even with the above facts, the areas with the largest fire suppression costs (utilizing the stratified cost index) continue to be Regions 1 and 6.

10/27 Jim Barnes (and Ramona Crew):

Having watched the same thing go down a time or two at Hemet in the 90s when
Ray Saucedo and CDF counterparts were there, I can't agree with you more.

One day I saw a continuous stream of 17 heavy airtankers load and return out
of Hemet from 1030 to 2000 with the precision of an atomic clock. Certainly
a thing of beauty.

Hugh Carson
10/26 After spending the last week and a half at Ramona Airtanker Base during the extreme Santa Ana Wind event I learned some important lessons. The first being that firefighting under the most extreme burning conditions I have ever witnessed in So Cal. is another world. I have to admit to being more than a little shell shocked. The second lesson is one that I have relearned many times. That is that the media often abandons reporting the facts and the interest of the public good to evoke an emotional response by attacking the very people that risk their lives to fight the fire in order to develop a “hot story”. The first few days CALFIRES air program was continuously criticized for an inadequate response. Statements were made that the military could have done a better job.

Here are some facts that I am aware of; Airtanker Pilots Mike Venable, Billy Hoskins, Bob Forbes and Lynn McGrew made a valiant attempt to stop the Witch fire under conditions that tested their aircraft and airmanship to their very limits. They decided to stop flight operations only when it became apparent that further efforts would be to no avail. In my humble opinion their actions were heroic. Shortly after that no aircraft in the inventory civil or military could have survived in the wing breaking turbulence and zero visibility that existed well into the next day.

Upon seeing our Chief getting out of the Air Attack ship trying to hold back his tears, I knew that something terrible had happened on the Harris Fire. It had. Some of our Firefighters were burned over and severely injured in addition to one civilian fatality. They happened to be Firefighters that were very close to the Ramona Air Attack Base family. The US Forest Service Firefighters that rescued them were also a part of that family.

The entire compliment of the Ramona Air Attack Base deserves our praise and the gratitude of every citizen living in San Diego County. Their performance was exemplary in every way. When they ran out of water, water tenders were ordered and ran around the clock to keep Ramona Air Attack Base operational. After fighting fire all night with her husband to save her home and her neighborhood Sheri Lee showed up for work at 6:00 AM to perform her duties at the tanker base keeping everything running smoothly as she always does.

Ramona Air Attack Base is an example of the best we have to offer starting with its leadership and ending with a team of professionals. The nerve center in the tower, the ramp managers, aircraft directors and loaders are a well oiled machine. They handled a third of our total airtanker fleet and three Air Attack ships and never missed a beat.

I didn’t work out of Hemet except to reload once but I can say with great confidence that the same level of excellence and dedication to the mission was operating there as well.

On the statue of the Iwo Jima Memorial it states that “uncommon valor was a common virtue”. After seeing our ground Firefighters putting themselves in harms way time after time to provide for the protection and safety of others I believe that they can proudly lay claim to that sacred creed.

Jim Barnes
10/26 Mellie, 4300 is about right. With some increase since 2005, R-5 is probably pushing 4600 now with the recently added helicopters/helitankers.

CB, I don’t think we need to go there. I wouldn’t want to shake the man's hand in the first place (and I voted for him and I’ll never forgive myself for that mistake). If he could, he would give your job to state and local government in a New York minute. Fortunately, the Feinsteins of this world won’t allow that to happen. OK Abs, no more politics, sorry, as you say, carry on.....

AB, news agencies, - My lord talk about some crazy stuff going on with those news channels. Nothing short of having one fire engine and one hand crew for every 1/10 of acre for each burnable acre would have made a difference. You could have had every C-130 in the free world loading and returning and every helicopter from our NATO allies with a bucket on them and houses would still have burned. Santa Ana winds events and wildfires create extremely serious situations. A 100 mph wind gusts will usually ruin your day (one way or the other). Wildfires and Santa Ana’s have been occurring for thousands of years and will continue for thousands of more years. The only difference is about 16 million people have decided to live in the area, with 16 news channels trying increase ratings, using 16 different reporters who think they should be Division A for the day.

Mother Nature was in charge for about 2-3 days this week. However, this does not mean fire orgs are not effective in limiting these types of events and averting other mega fires throughout any given fire season. Strong fire organizations (local, state, county and Fed) are a must. 12 large fires occurred this week. Dozens, if not hundreds, were picked up at IA this week. This was due the hard work of many of you and the financial support we have from the American people to maintain strong fire organizations. Finally, what the heck ever did happen to CNN's Aaron Brown? He was a good dude.

10/26 Santiago Canyon Fire

The fire made pretty good runs today. The on-shore flow is in full alignment with horribly dry and dead fuel beds (Oak Croak and drought) and steep canyons. The containment box currently set is rather large. They even have double letter divisions being set up. There is a mild off-shore event possibly coming Sunday and Monday which could blow this back down canyon at the affected residential neighborhoods. Santiago Canyon residences had a mandatory evac order today and the Holy Jim Canyon could become problematic if the wind event materializes.

As of now, it is heading uphill trying to slop over into Riverside County above the city of Corona and communities south. The biggest problem with this is the history of these hills and incredibly unpredictable winds. There have been firefighter fatalities on the “Elsinore Front Country” due to these conditions. So firefighter safety has been a huge issue for the command team and they are taking it very, very seriously. They actually pulled all units off the main divide road (divides Orange County from Riverside County at the top of the mountain) last night due to extreme fire conditions and basically said, we will see what the damage looks like in the morning.

That is it for now…


Hotlist on Santiago Fire

10/26 Thanks to Vicki, Lobotomy and the WFF!

Lobotomy, the visit you paid to the burned firefighters from the Harris fire at the UC San Diego Burn center is truly appreciated by us. The WFF is an organization that shares what it has when it can to our brothers and sisters who may be well cared for but the personal touches like this are sure a morale builder for those injured and their families. ALSO, to those who saw to it that those four firefighters were sent directly to a burn center; KUDOS for a job well done and some very accurate decision making! Your quick thinking hastened the qualified specialized medical attention they needed so badly. If we all stick together and support each other we can all make a difference.

Thank you WFF!


These were the CalFire firefighters who were burned over on the Harris Fire. Thank you for visiting them. Ab.

10/26 Hugh

In '93 we were prepositioned in Orange County because of predicted Santa Anna winds. When the Topanga Canyon fire broke in Malibu, we responded with a massive number of resources. We made a brave stand and were able to stop the fire at the Pacific Ocean. (We never did get any thanks from the folks from Hawaii.)

I don't know that any amount of response will stop a fire when you have drought stressed fuels, high winds, low RH and warm temps. I believe that the battle is best won prior to the ignition. Why are there still homes in the interface that lack non-flammable building materials, lack of defensible space, lousy access, etc.?

Maybe with this amount of loss, the insurance companies will take a leadership role in making homeowners take responsibility for reducing the fire hazard from around their homes. I know that they are the only ones who have the leverage to make that happen.

Swing by next time you are in town. I am in NY for the next week but will be back in town after that.


Haw Haw on the Hawaii. Ab.

10/26 Mellie,

There is no question that federal firefighting resources in CA have a challenging mission and the workforce is nearly half that of the national federal workforce. Don't think this is solely because of the fire management mission needs in CA. It has a great deal to do with politics, many times to the detriment of fire programs in other DOI and DOA agencies in other states.

As an element of the National Fire Plan, each fire management unit completed an objective complexity analysis of their fire program which was reviewed and validated. This analysis considered all elements of a fire program, (fuels, weather, topography, WUI, cooperating agencies, fire occurrence, fuels management, fire use, etc. Most SZ forests (which is where most of the resources are kegged up), rated a relatively low complexity compared to many programs in other states. Hence, fire and fuels budgets and allocation of firefighter resources are not based solely on fire program complexity.

I don't mean to diminish the current situation in SZ. Hope the weather changes soon.


Are you saying indirectly that you think all the South Zone forces will be reduced? Ab.

10/26 CB:

I have to agree with AB...I was thrilled and honored to see the President greet the E-32 crew (Inyo?) yesterday.

Yup, CAL-FIRE gets all the press...so what. There are some of us working behind the scenes to ensure those who are at the federal level know exactly what you are doing for California & the Nation not only during this fire siege, but all year long.

Additionally, there was an interview with a young lady, Forest Service, while she was cutting line. She spoke as she continued to work. Her helmet said E-44 so I hope someone can identify her for me. She epitomized the federal wildland firefighter, their work ethic, their "not-so-much-in-the-public-eye" incredibly hard work and perhaps more than any other image I've seen from SoCal this week validated why I do what I do, why Ab does what Ab does and why Vicki Minor of the WFF does what she does.

To whomever that young lady was... thank you for the endearing image you gave to all of America.


Could we put this message from Wendy on TheySaid? I think it would be great for Ken
to see all the support he has out there.


As you know, Ken is in Egypt right now, just a couple of days away
from the start of his big 150 mile run through the Sahara Desert
with Racing the Planet!!

The runners are able to receive emails each night, received at each
camp and then printed off and handed out (kind of like getting a
care package at summer camp!!). Here is the link to send Ken an


There's a pull down menu - just choose his name and send him a
note!! I think it would be great if he could gets lots and lots of
emails each evening. I know it would be very motivating and mean A
LOT to him!!

So send Ken a daily email!! Starting Sunday October 28 and ending
Friday November 2 - big stacks of emails for Kenneth!!

10/26 Thanks for keeping up the Theysaid site.

I'm no longer working on fires but like to hear what is going on from the ones who do, and see those pictures. Those flame lengths in SoCal were amazing. Also just happened on the fire shelter story tonite on NBC news, that's also amazing to see pictures carried nationally of shelter deployment, put my heart in my mouth.

Also tonite the PBS report was great, with the story including the morning briefing and giving credit to the extensive amount of information such as archeological resources to protect, and other info such as comm freqs (my old job) that were shared to crew bosses etc.

Good to see the attitude of professionalism, safety and enthusiasm continues.

Call me "Piemaker".

Glad you visit Piemaker. Heres the Hotlist thread on the Santiago Fire Deployment. Ab.

10/26 From Firescribe:

Another way the rich are different: 'concierge-level' fire protection


When Southland clients' multimillion-dollar homes were threatened, insurer AIG dispatched crews with fire retardant.
By Kimi Yoshino, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 26, 2007

RANCHO SANTA FE, CALIF. -- Bryce Carrier's cellphone rang at 3 a.m.: Help! The fire is almost to my house.

Carrier hopped into his heavy-duty red Ford F-550 and sped to northeast Poway, dodging fallen eucalyptus and heading straight toward the wind-whipped blaze. He arrived to find flames marching up an embankment toward the multimillion-dollar home.

Yanking out the hose in the back of his truck, he began applying Phos-Chek fire retardant along the perimeter of the property, the shrubs and the roof. When the flames hit the milky white liquid, they stopped.

Another home saved.

Carrier is a certified firefighter, but he doesn't work for a government agency. He's an employee of Firebreak Spray Systems, which partners with the insurance company American International Group Inc. to protect the mansions of the moneyed.

Click the link to read more.

One article that summarizes the media hype over aircraft, as though that was the answer... Rules exist for a reason.

Bureaucracy hampered initial Calif. fire efforts
Rules kept firefighting aircraft on ground as devastating blazes took hold

10/26 Here are some stats from 2005 on Federal Firefighter numbers and percentages by agency:




DOA Forest Service firefighters
DOI firefighters (BLM, FWS and BIA)
15,137 62%
CALIFORNIA to rest of the NATION for Forest Service      
9,385 46%

In 2005 California Forest Service firefighters comprised about 28.5% of all federal firefighters.

CB, California Forest Service Firefighters do a heck of a lot of firefighting for California and for the nation. (Note that Pincha-Tulley's team (Ranch Fire) and Oplinger's team (Buckwheet Fire) also supported hurricane Katrina victims two years ago. Where did they come from? They came up through the ranks in California.)

You all have a right to be proud, as do CalFire firefighters, and the rest of our hardworking, firefighting civil servants from all agencies.

Thank you!


10/26 On the lighter side....

One of our type 6 engines is making its way to SoCal today. Our Training Officer,
who's in charge of all things gadgety, turned on his super secret remote locator gadget
(it's either on the Nextel or the MCT's wireless card... he wouldn't spill the beans)
to check their progress.

The phone call started out something like this...
"Hey, are you guys must be getting fuel at the corner of xxxx and xxxx in Medford, OR?"

Loooooooooonnnnggg pause on the other end....
"uh, yeah... how did you know?"

"Don't worry about it. Drive safe!"

... Maybe we'll tell them how we knew when they come home.
10/26 NBC Nightly News tonight


NBC Nightly news is working on a story for tonight on the burnover involving 12 members of the Orange County Fire Authority on the Santiago Fire. Incident occurred approx 1505 Monday 22 Oct.

We interviewed personnel involved in the burnover and the LA Times photographer who happened to be on the road below the site. She took a number of astonishing pictures of the event.

Al Henkel

Ab replied:

Yep, doesn't surprise me. We had names and info out here on the hotlist early on and had a number of inquiries:
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2253 Is it your NBC piece?

Al replied:

Yes. I also shot a lot of the material from Poway and Rancho Bernardo. Thanks.

Ab comment about Al Henkel: I "met" Al in 2001 when he was a photo journalist for the Modesto Bee. His son was a Groveland Hotshot. Al did the basic firefighter training and went out with the crew on occasion, if I remember correctly. Al provided some very nice photos then that have since been used by many in this community for training powerpoints, etc. Then he retired... and now he's "Bureau Chief/Producer NBC News, SW Bureau".

I'll be watching your show Al. Thanks for the heads up.

10/26 Here is a pic of shelter deployment on the SANTIAGO FIRE which appeared in several newspapers.

Seems as though there were SEVERAL SITUATIONS in which firefighters had to shelter in place or deploy fully or partially their fireshelters!!

Luckily everyone is safe.

Be safe out there!!
Know your 10's & 18's
Fight fire aggressively but ALWAYS provide for SAFETY FIRST!!


Readers you can see a little version of the picture CM references on a link (says PHOTO) via the hotlist HERE.

10/26 From the hotlist forum: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2166


As of 1:10 PM 10/26/07, the fire is within one hour of Silverado Canyon.
Orange Co Sheriff Deputies are attempting to evacuate remaining residents.

The Satellite Maps show hot spots all long the southern side of Silverado
and mostly at the eastern end of the canyon.

It's SO smoky where I am I can see the actual fire but the satellites and
cell phone calls are confirming the situation as well.

Be safe! Ab.

10/26 Ab:

I totally agree with your estimation of CNN "having fallen."

I haven't really watched CNN since Aaron Brown left. He was a thoughtful
analyst with an ironic, humorous approach. The following additional example
was I think MS-NBC, which I highly respect (Keith O) but this was Dan Abrams
whom I don't respect at all - he goes for the easy answer like Anderson

What riled me was both media outlets going after the Administration for
depleting the CA Natl Guard's domestic capability by the troops' overseas
duty in Iraq. This may be true to some extent (the quote was "we're down 75
generators, etc, etc").

As you know, I'm no great fan of the Administration, but come on!! The
major media don't even seem to know that the proper and most effective
deployment of Guard resources, most of whom have Iraq/Afghan experience, is
in logistics roles of evac, LE, medical, camp/supplies. They have it in
their mind that the Guard can in fact deploy off their trucks into
subdivisions in 80 mph winds and start digging line. Faced with that, most
might want to return to downtown Fallujah.

The point is the media have apparently totally lost their capability to do
true investigative reporting, which involves one hell of a lot more than
the easy sound bite or anti-Administration grandstanding to please their
Democratic (of which I am proudly one) listeners.

What is really cool for my own realization that you can't kneejerk responses
based on the political flavor of the media is this: the absolute best
analysis I've seen in the past 6 days was by PBS (wait, wait!!!), I think on
Wednesday night, by Paul McHale, who has been the Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Homeland Defense since February 2003. In this position, he is
responsible for the supervision of all homeland defense activities of the
Department of Defense. Also briefing were two DOD generals representing the
Guard Bureau in DOD.

PBS was broadcasting this briefing to review how and with what DOD was
responding. His presentation was incredible: insightful, knowledgeable, not
overplaying DOD's role or capability, admitting the mistakes and lessons
learned of Katrina - in short, he was awesome. He even knew the training
time it takes to get foot soldiers up to speed to actively fight fire, and
even seemed to be aware that they are usually deployed in mop-up situations.
If I were king for a day, I'd appoint Mr. McHale for Secretary of Homeland
Security in a heartbeat.

Anderson Cooper and Dan Abrams could take a lesson or two from him.

Hugh Carson
10/26 Ok this is petty and I know we have all thought it, but yesterday while the President and diplomats were greeting firefighters at the ICP, all the focus was on CalFire. We (USFS and others) were shunned we were told we could stand with the rest of the firefighters and that when we brought our engines in, we couldn't park in certain areas as they were reserved for CalFire. (Some of our crews were able to find ways around CalFire captains who let us stand near them).
  • Let's all remember that CalFire is not single-handily fighting every fire in California,
  • Let's remember that they work 24 on 24 off and the feds (Forest Service, BLM, NPS, FWS, BIA) work 16 on 8 off. This means that in a 4 day period federal crews put in 64 hours of suppression while Calfire is on the line for 48hrs.
  • Let's also not forget about the local/municipalities and groundpounders from all over the West and across the US. I have seen engines from New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and I have seen federal hotshot crews from all over the country. Everyone is working long hours and doing what we can to give residents something to come home too.
  • Let's not praise one agency over another.
  • Let's not point fingers at one agency's tactics vs another's.

We need to work together because this is where we gather our strength and our true complimentary abilities come out.

Please all of you be safe, we have turned a corner but this is by no means over and the chance will remain for large fires and life threatening situations.

Small side note.
Daniel Yanez a fire fighter for the USFS Cleveland National Forest lost his home while on the lines trying to protect others. Please send good thoughts and prayers and remember that WFF and Redcross are great places to donate.


Hi there CB. I watched the Gov and the Pres yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised when, before his speech, the Pres shook hands with a whole string of Forest Service crewmembers standing in front of a green engine -- Inyo NF E-32 (if more numbers, couldn't see the first one). Only after that did the Pres and his entourage go on to shake hands with other firefighters. The videographer did "good" in capturing the Pres shaking hands with FS groundpounders in front of the green engine. It was the first time I've seen that in all my years of watching. So in spite of, or maybe because of, the jockeying for position you experienced, the FS forces were acknowledged. CalFire, Orange County, LA County, Ventura Co, all cooperators, we need all of us working on containing these fires together.

I'm curious if anyone has a statistical breakdown on the number of fed and other agency wildland firefighters: Forest Service vs other fed agencies nationally; Forest Service in CA vs FS across the country vs other fed agencies; Fed vs states (CalFire, ODF, WA-DNR, etc. And how many private sector wildland firefighters. Sometimes I wonder who we are exactly. Ab.

10/26 Hey Ab...


Kudos to you for telling it like it is.

CalFire does indeed put an observer with each and every ship...they are trained and qualified to do so. Most are Helitack Fire Captains with the experience that the position DEMANDS.

Pilots are not just whizzing around up here...we have to check in with our particular ATGS on our particular part of our particular fire on our assigned particular radio frequency... and remain in contact with him/her throughout our fly cycle on that assignment. Things are very fluid and very active to say the least.

Again... thanks so much for telling the truth and not condescending to those flaming idiot "experts" on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, The Weather Channel (yes, that's right...!!) CBS, NBC, ABC, ad nauseam...

Keep at 'er...

10/26 Ok, I'm going to change the subject. We all know about the fires in
California, so I'm going to try a different song and dance.

Tell us about a fire YOU started or accidentally started. Mine was
started out of innocence, ignorance, and perhaps a good dose of stupidity.

At age 17 I spent a summer with an uncle and grandmother on Mullholland
Highway in a house on about three acres. I'm guessing you can't find that
house for sale now for anything close to the $66,666 asking price in 1969.
Want the exact location? I believe it was just across from the
intersection of the Cold Canyon Road. The map of the area on google looks
surprisingly unchanged.

I knew little about fire, humidity, wind speed, and fuel loading. I do
know the chaparral out being the house had leaf little over a foot deep in
places. I thought that was pretty cool! I had no idea is was great fuel.

Bees. I was tending a bee hive. The day was windy, maybe 15mph blowing in
off the coast from several miles away. I tired to light my hive smoker
with rags in a can. The wind kept blowing out my matches. Today that
would have been a hint, but at the time I had no idea of what I was about
to start. After each blew out, I threw it on the ground and tried another.
Suddenly, I looked down at my feet at a foot size circle of fire. I
started stamping. I got one half of the circle out with the first steps
while the other half doubled in size. I stamped out another half and again
the other half doubled, undoing any progress. I stood there for what
seemed an eternity, stamping out new flame and spreading fire as I went.
Fortunately for the local residents, including my uncle who's house was
fifty feet down wind through waist high cured grasses, by the time the
black reached a three foot diameter I had outstamped the fire's spread.

I learned a bit about fire, matches, and especially wind that day.

Anyone have another story? We need to lighten up a bit.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~MOMENT   OF  SILENCE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
E-57 Remembered
1200 hours

Thank you.

10/26 Today is the first anniversary of our loss of five good men on the Esperanza Fire. Please join us in a moment of silence at noon, commemorating E-57's crew: Lotzie, Gus, Jason, Pablo and Danny.

www.engine57memorial.org/thecrew.phpl and

"This high performance team ... all kept working for the safety of the public and to raise the bar of professionalism for the United States Forest Service.

Our challenge now is to honor the memory of our fallen brothers, Mark, Jess, Jason, Pablo and Danny. To do this we're all going to have to work a little bit harder and be a little bit better, because Engine Company 57 raised the bar for all of us…..forever."

Norm Walker at the memorial service.

Each of us honor them by raising the bar in what we do every day.

Be safe.


10/26 Gordo and All,

I have heard the same behind the scenes, that the work-rest guidelines have been stretched. But what do you do in a 36-48 hour IA situation with 60mph winds,? You certainly don't lie down for a nap. Resources were not available to relieve firefighters in the middle of the firefight. No doubt, other guidelines that were violated have to do with incident complexity and the fact that fires can go from Type 4 to Type 2 even Type 1 complexity in less than an hour under Santa Ana conditions with multiple agencies responding, public evacs, etc; Type 4 or 3 ICs are not redcarded to manage Type 2 or 1 complexity fires. But what do they do? Say, "oops, this is too complex for my level of training, I'm out'ta here" and walk away? That would be irresponsible as well and people could die. If someone was injured or died on their watch under the old "rules" applied by DOJ and OPM and OSHA, the IC would have to pony up big bucks for legal fees to defend him or herself. To me that's de facto "guilty" if you can't afford to prove your innocence.

There have also been problems with communication:. For example, couple of days ago only one 800 mhz unit was provided to an entire crew on the Santiago Fire and the batteries went dead after several hours. If I'm not wrong, there should be one unit for each 5 firefighters, has to do with span of control. Communications is key. LCES

And then the media is yelling that CalFire should relax standards and not have a CA Fire Agency observer flying with military units... Gim'me'a'break. First, military unit radios do not work on the same frequencies as fire command. We either all need to be on the same freq or we need a person along who can communicate. Secondly, some military air resources have worked fighting fire in CA. Some have not. How do military pilots know where and when to lay retardant or water? What if they inadvertently hit groundpounders?

There was one good interchange on the news last night. The CNN reporter discussing air resources kept trying to get the military general in charge of co-operating air resources to state something in a way that would assign blame to CalFire. The general repeated 3 or 4 times with HIS OWN careful wording and added that CalFire firefighters are the experts in the firefighting arena. Good for him. On another note, it's no wonder that we don't have all the recommendations from the 2003 Blue Ribbon Panel tied down. Everyone, especially the media, but also politicians, presumes they're the expert.

CNN has really fallen in my estimation. Anderson whats-his-name's "keeping them honest segment", what bullsh*t! The public hears that same cr*p over and over again and in their minds, it comes to be true. It's a form of brainwashing and they do us all a disservice. Firefighters and firefighter supporters, we need to keep pulling together because it's not done, the fires are still burning. Let's not be distracted because of the "blaming climate" the media is creating. (I think Anderson Cooper's producers would have been happier if Qual Comm was like The Superdome. Tell the story, make it negative, get the emotional response and hook the viewers... Sad.)

There will be lessons to be learned to further our readiness for this type of firestorm event in the future, in spite of the media and politics. Compared to 2003, I think we're doing much better. And we can do better still.

Congrats to Pincha Tulley's CIIMTeam 3 and Oplinger's CIIMTeam 4 on the Ranch and Buckweed fires, respectively. It's nice to have successes under our belt. Now for the rest. I wish you all success!

Carry on! Set the bar high.


10/26 Greetings AB,

I heard a news story on CNBC yesterday. They were interviewing ground firefighters in SoCal. This one guy went on about how he hasn't slept in 36 hours, been on the line continuously and now that they have a break, he was going to bed down on the ground in a ball park. Perhaps it was just bravado. Do you guys still work those kinds of hours? Is there anybody out there who is still so mission driven that they go 36 hours without sleep on the line?

I seem to recall that safety of the firefighters was the top priority. How safe can a person's decision making process be after a night without sleep? Somebody please tell me this guy was just trying to make himself out to be a bigger hero than the rest.

All the best,
10/26 The DC-7's and the Martin Mars are under contract with CAL FIRE for
this unprecedented fire siege California is under.

Cal Fire Jake
10/26 >From 12/31/2006:

George Pozzuto said,

"If at all possible, I encourage every one to avoid being anonymous and become very active in the defense for Ellreese Daniels. He deserves it and so do all of the rest of us who continually put our families in jeopardy every time we respond to the call for action."

Ellreese Daniels isn't a criminal. He might be a f-up with a cloud that follows him with poor personal decisions and actions, but he didn't do anything that was criminal negligence or homicide in any actions in relation to the Thirtymile fire.

Hopefully he has a good attorney and friends supporting him. Ellreese got two big "strikes" against my continued support over the last year.... both strikes personal..... drugs and abuse of others.....something I despise....... so far, he has been cleared of both....... my patience and support wears thin.....

In any case, Ellreese didn't commit a crime during Thirtymile......

Rogue Rivers

10/26 normbc;

Wow someone who has been around those hill's as long as i have. I lived at the Calif. Div. of Highway's station ( now Caltrans) in Guatay from 1944 to 1963, then various east co. locations until 2003.

I remember my grandfather who was the hwy. foreman, taking me up to Cuymaca and we watched the Conejos fire going over Cuymaca peak from the old trout ponds.

I also remember a fire on North Peak, it burned down one of the repeater towers. I believe it was on mothers day, 1972 or 1973.

10/26 Ab,

KFI AM 640, a local Southern California radio station, has put $100,000 towards the reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Santiago Fire arsonist.

With their donation, the total reward money is now $250,000.

Last year, KFI AM 640 raised nearly $70,000 in a four hour broadcast for the families of the fallen Esperanza firefighters. They also provided coverage of both the IRS and Franchise Tax Board laws that needed to be changed so that the Esperanza families could receive donated money tax free. They reported on the reconstruction of Maria's home and what was needed to complete it. (They also roasted Tennie Pierce... ).

On the morning program, the Ellreese Daniels (Thirty Mile) case was mentioned several times.

With the exception of "Coast to Coast", since Sunday, their coverage has been exclusively continual coverage of the Southern California wildfires. This has been a great service to the communities, but also to the wildland firefighters on the fireline worrying about their friends and family in the southland.

Eric, John K., Lea, Terrie Rae, Michelle, Ken, John Z., Bill, Wayne, Jay L., and the entire KFI staff that I may have forgotten to mention.... thank you!!! You are friends of the wildland fire community.

Eric, hope to see you at LAX on the 6th of November as Ken Perry returns from his quest in Egypt in support of wildland firefighters and their families.

/s/ A Federal Wildland Firefighter

P.S. - Four wildland firefighters remain at UCSD Medical Center recovering from serious burns on the Harris Fire in San Diego county. Eight wildland firefighters have given their lives in the line of duty this year. Support the WFF!!!
10/26 In early October, both the NoOps and SoOps intel shops posted the following message on their Energy Release Component pages:

"Winter conditions of snow covered fuels require that the ERC and fuel moisture graphs be temporarily discontinued. The graphs for this page are generated by FireFamily Plus. Weather station data imported into FireFamily Plus during the months of snow covered fuels does not contain all required information to generate accurate NFDRS outputs. This is due to missing Wet Fuels flag information in the imported FWX data and the FireFamily Plus program not being programmed to utilize the information imported using the FW9 format. Accurate values can be obtained from the Weather Information Management System (WIMS) - if the daily observation represents the snow covered fuels by properly "forcing" the Wet Fuels flag entry."

It appears the problem has been fixed in SoOps as the ERC and fuel moisture graphs are being updated again. Hopefully the "wet fuels" confusion doesn't need further explanation. In any case, the "wet fuels" forcing correction should never be applied to areas that do not receive snowfall...... and especially never applied to rainfall events, or days with increased RH.

I recommend that a SoOps Intel group be formed and chaired by the Intel Officer. Each individual forest, district, park, and CAL FIRE unit would be represented by their local fire behavior and fuels experts, and provide local expertise and knowledge in preparedness and response planning. A representative from NWS-San Diego, NWS-Oxnard, NWS-Phoenix, NWS-Las Vegas, NWS-Hanford, and NWS-Monterey, and a representative from the Riverside FWU would also participate.

On a bi-weekly basis, a fire behavior and fuels outlook would be generated with a minimum of additional work. The benefits would be an increase in firefighter and community safety, a better handle on fire preparedness needs in the local area, and a tool to quantify required staffing and/or draw down levels to support other areas or regions during periods of reduced fire hazard.


10/25 From FireDonkey on the Hotlist:

From the Director:

All Cal Fire facilities will fly their flags a half staff today in memory of the crew of
Engine 57. A moment of silence will be observed a 12 noon today.

10/25 Moment of Silence Tomorrow for E-57

A little belated, however I thought I would follow up.

Vicki Jackson, thank you, very well done. We will be silent at 1200. It would of been great to hear from our FAM Director, however your direction seems to be the best for the families, the Service and employees.

Just a Hotshot - Your not just a Hotshot. More important than being a Hotshot is being a good person and someone who cares about other people. I'm sure your good at all three. Impressive write up. Just to close on your post, please do me a favor. Next time your on the Internet do a google search, type in: "MLK and things that matter": Find the match, think about what you just discovered and live by it for the rest of your life.


10/25 Arsonists

So, "They Said" posters, the media and everyone else is stuck on the monday morning QB'ing and
what if games. What if the Marines had been called earlier? What if we pre-positioned thousands
of resources? What if global warming caused the fires to get bigger? I say: What if we had the
death penalty for arsonists? Most if not all of the recent fires were arson. The public, firefighters,
law enforcement, and the media should be blaming the ones who started the fires in the first
place ,not the people who risk life and limb to try to stop these conflagrations.

And if you are against the death penalty for arsonists, maybe you would support stump breaking
them with a lit fusee. They deserve nothing less. Can you tell that I don't like them?

How many of you have ever seen an established Santa Ana wind driven fire stopped by mere humans,
with or with out air support. We catch them after the wind stops blowing or when the on-shore
rebound winds blow them back on themselves and the marine flow brings in the higher rh's. By the
way, that is when the backfires actually work.

Anyone else out there surprised to see G.W. not blaming Al-Queda for the fires?


Got a call from a firefighter on a crew on the Santiago fire today. He said about 20 FBI agents were carefully working all over the place at the 3 sites of origin. Always better to hold the comments and work the scene... Ab.

10/25 Back fire and burn out in a 100 mph wind in brush? I won't even address
that foolish idea.

Being here, not watching CNN
(Text message)
10/25 All

Just a reminder that when folks are asking what they can do to thank the firefighters, you can gently point them to the WFF, by mail, phone or on the web site. This would be an excellent time to get some more backing for Ken's run or just a donation to the WFF. We know that most of the time things don't allow for long discussions but if you have time, let them know what the foundation does and why there is a need. If there are contacts within the media that you can open for us to follow up with please let us know or direct them to us.

Mike Warren
WFF Board of Directors

I just got off the phone with Ken, and he is in a taxi on his way from the Cairo airport to his hotel in Giza! He asked me to write into They Said for those who might be interested in his adventures so far.

It's 1 am Friday morning in Egypt, and I could hear cars screeching, horns honking - it was so loud!! He said it has been the wildest taxi ride of his life (Ken: "Chr*st, we just about hit someone"). Seems to be a place of 24 hour a day action. He said his driver looks like an ex-jumper he knows (John Hawkins?). The taxi is a Fiat and comes tricked out with horns AND a siren! He said most cars have no headlights, don't stay between the lines, and there are people walking right down the middle of most streets.

The flight from LAX left about an hour late, and he only had a 2 hour layover in Heathrow scheduled, so it was a bit tight getting to his flight to Cairo. But he made it, despite leaving his iPhone on the first plane and being paged to return to the gate to claim it. Ken told the gate person he only had about 45 minutes to get to his next flight, and did the guy think he would make it, and the guy said, "Can you run?" Uhh...good thing he can!! The plane to Cairo was a 777 which made Ken very happy.

When he arrived in Cairo, he was spotted by some other guys doing the desert run. I think they're probably easy to identify!! They offered to give him a ride to his hotel but they were going to different places so Ken had to take the wild taxi ride he is currently on. He sounds great and said he slept a lot on the plane, so he's not that tired. Tomorrow (Friday) is pack check day, when the runners have their packs completely checked to make sure they have the proper gear and enough calories in their food.

Ken is getting great cell phone coverage with his iPhone!! I'm sure the bill will be outrageous but it's great to be able to talk to him and hear the excitement in his voice. Nothing seems to shake him, even when things are going wrong. He just said it is all part of the adventure!


10/25 I found this at work. Interesting... noname

Ab note. There is no link. I think you have to sign up for their newsletter: Environment and Energy Daily: the best way to track Congress. Here's the beginning of the report...

FORESTS: Calif. fires could spark changes to Forest Service budget
Dan Berman, E&E Daily senior reporter

Southern California's latest spate of wildfires could be enough to convince lawmakers to develop a new system of funding for federal fire suppression programs, leaders of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee said yesterday.

Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) is developing legislation that would set a limit on the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management's fire costs and hand the rest over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Unlike hurricanes, fire suppression is handled out of appropriated dollars, and in the past the agencies have shifted funds from other programs -- including hazardous fuels reduction -- to pay for firefighting.

"Taking the money away from the Forest Service and BLM out of their accounts totally disrupts the management of the agencies that are already underfunded," Dicks said. "It just doesn't make sense."

Last year, the federal government spent nearly $2 billion fighting fires on about 10 million acres nationwide. As of last week, the federal government spent just over $1.7 billion fighting wildfires, but that was before the Southern California events, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

For fiscal 2008, the House and Senate appropriations measures would provide $859 million for the Forest Service and $294 million for the Bureau of Land Management, a figure based, as always, on the 10-year average of fire suppression costs.

The Forest Service devotes more than 45 percent of its budget to fire suppression and preparedness, compared to 13 percent in 1991 and 25 percent in 2000.

"We need to budget for these types of situations so we're not shortchanging the service," said the ranking member of the Interior spending panel, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.)

sign up to read the rest. It is very interesting... Ab.
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10/25 I just noticed that two DC-7 airtankers (T-62 and T-66) are on the ground at Fox Airtanker Base.

The Martin Mars is also at Lake Elsinore.

Did something change? Are these contracted by LACoFD, CAL FIRE, the Forest Service, or by FEMA?

10/25 Dear Supporting the cause, and looking for lessons to be learned

Most of your points are excellent. Anticipation of the need for massive
evacuation was definitely a lesson learned from 2003 and previous. The
relatively small numbers of deaths and injuries is a tribute to many things,
but in particular a manifestation of timely evacuation and good risk
management resulting in good decision-making. Otherwise the toll would have
been much higher. And compared to Malibu 93 where we lost 600 homes, mostly
on Day 1, on just one 18,000 acre fire vs. what happened this year, the
proof of improvements is definitely in that pudding.

But I disagree with you that more prepositioned resources would not have
made any difference. This from an e-mail from a source who had a 37-year
career in a SZ agency, highly respected, numerous articles on the subject
published. I hope this engenders some productive discussion.

"I agree there have been some successes. However, three big changes in
strategic thinking has really increased overall costs and reduced

"1. Risk averse ICs want total evacuation to cover their a____s (what is the
cost of handling 500K evacuees?)

"2. The "experts" have decided and been quoted that ground forces can't
fight fire while the wind is blowing. If teams deployed offensive
strategies, many resources could be released to the other fires who are
trying to succeed with inadequate resources. TV coverage and the "experts"
are showing that all we can do is protect structures in wind driven fires.

"3. In all of the previous sieges we had great opportunities to start large
scale fuel management (With solid green belts around developments we could
copy the Aussies and protect in place, and we could protect structures with
a fraction of the engines we use with our inadequate planning and
enforcement activities) I like your pre-positioning argument; I fought a
losing battle for 8 years on pre-positioning. "We can't afford it". What is
the cost to society of insurance losses and govt reimbursement? Agency
leaders refuse to spend money up front because they can wait for the
disaster and get reimbursed."

Additionally, the lack of currently available technology, and the
willingness to fund such in an integrated systems approach rather than
piecemeal with a UAV here, an IR there, in other words, migrate Northrop
Grumman's Internet Battlefield to the fire ground, significantly hinders the
placement, awareness of, and redeployment of resources effectively and
safely. Essentially everyone at every level knows where everyone is at all
times, and where the threat (fire) is. 99% Situational Awareness on a
sunlight-readable plasma screen on a cell phone, laptop, tablet PC on the
hood of a pickup, whatever. Having fought fires off and on in my 35 yea
career (79 on Chantry Helishots, AOBD off and on Teams), I know better than
to characterize my SA as better than a measly 40% at any given time in
normal fires, much less Santa Anas.

In all fairness, and in the interests of full disclosure, myself and John
Sorenson, at that time CEO of Seagull Technology in Mountain View, presented
a concept to FIRESCOPE the summer before the 2003 Siege. Good support from
several SZ County Chiefs. We got a pat on the head and told "Nice Concept."
Following the siege, we presented it to the DHS-HSARPA organization
(civilian counterpart of DOD's ARPA). Again, "nice concept." Fortunately,
however, DHS re-issued the RFP and now the big boys (Northrop Grumman, to be
exact), for better or for worse) are now involved in getting the civilian
disaster "internet battlefield" fleshed out. I of course would have liked
to be part of that, but frankly I don't give a rat's a___ who does, as long
as it gets out to the person who counts, the line firefighter on the ground.

This is not finger-pointing. Either on the preparedness issue or the
technology issue.

You should be incredibly proud of what you and others did and are doing this
week. I know that I am proud of you, as I am of Ken Perry.

However, it is cold hard fact that the agencies are not doing a good job in
this area.

It is cold hard fact that it is time that the agencies start doing a good
job in this area.

Too much is at stake, including your life.

Hugh Carson
10/25 Santa Ana Burning conditions

I am amazed at what I watch on the news these days. TIP: You can't effectively "direct attack" the head of a fire driven by Santana winds in chaparral but a "turn and burn" is likewise not an option. To quote Jack R. Tucker from "Touch of Fire" I would have gathered my fears and run but someone else would have paid the price…"

BACKFIRE, people! Burn out that fuel between you and the brush. When did we forget how to use fire to fight fire and start relying on pumpers, nomex and "shake and bakes" instead of brains and tactics? I watch vid after vid of crews letting the fire burn full force into the houses/equipment/whatever as they stand and wait the turn on the water, upwind, into a million BTU's. Doesn't work very well, does it? So why keep doing it?

In defense of Chip Prather's (He was my fireman about a million years ago) comments on air support, if you'll remember OCFD got left twisting in the wind (literally) on the Laguna Beach fire about a decade ago. That was his baby and he kept calling for air support and getting none. As I recall, it turned out that there were ANG C-130's sitting on the ground in Ventura or Pt. Mugu but they weren't allow to roll until all the contact equipment was committed, even the stuff coming from hours away. As a consequence, that fire ran full force into Laguna Beach neighborhoods and the rest, as they say, is history.

But this takes us right back to the above topic. BACKFIRE, people!! Burn out! Fire out! It isn't rocket science. It about as primitive as you can get (even the Aborigine's know how to do this) and is extremely effective as YOU choose the time and place the that you get to deal with the fire and even that at a much-reduced burn rate..

David uh thuh dzzrt

10/25 Mr Carson:

Thanks for the opportunity to watch an omelet being prepared !!

May I respectfully suggest that you quit trying to place the blame on individuals and just back off for a while?

You sure do sound as if YOU would have declared an emergency situation before the fact and avoided all that silly business of ordering in personnel and resources after the fires started.

Yeh...you're frustrated...who isn't along about now? Try "un frustrating" yourself like the rest of us and quit slinging arrows and spitting poison at everybody within reach will you please...?



Ab snipped and will copy and paste the entire content to Mr. Carson...

10/25 Preparation

I'm not sure how you prepare for a wind event of that
magnitude, Category 1 and 2 Hurricane force winds. Not
gale force or severe gale force winds, let me say
again Category 1 and 2 Hurricane force winds. You
could have brought down a thousand engines and 1000
aircraft, and I don't think you could have changed
things much, if at all. If you where standing at the
point of origin at the time of ignition, hose charged
bulldozers on site ready to start pushing, you
probably couldn't have made a difference.

So how do you prepare?

You have your law enforcement ready for
evacuations, you have pre identified locations for
evacuees, your local media is kept up to date on
changing conditions, your equipment is staffed,
resources out of the danger zone are kept fully
staffed and ready to roll, your dispatch centers are
communicating with each other. It sure sounds like a
success story to me, even the biased media who is always
looking for someone to blame are reporting what a
remarkable effort it has been by all levels of
government. The communications and coordination have
been remarkable. Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure there
have been breakdowns and missed communications and
areas that can be improved, but that is and always
will happen on a disaster of this magnitude. Stop
pointing and saying they weren't prepared, look for
the lessons to be learned, fix the broken, spread the
news on what was done correctly. Almost a million
people evacuated, hurricane force winds, hundreds of
thousands of acres scorched, spotting miles ahead of
the main fire, 1500 plus homes lost, what a terrible
event, but I take pride in the way I saw my agency
respond along with all the cooperators and the
strength of the California citizens bonding together
and help each other. Prepared?

Sign me.
Supporting the cause, and looking for lessons to be learned

10/25 Dear Concerned for "Next Time"

You wrote: "As I watch the news and read about the SoCal fires I get the
sense that SoCal fire agencies were not prepared for this 2007 Santa Ana
wind event??"

Scroll down to see my post of 10/22 on this subject.

I have yet to see any postings from those in the know or who have access to
the Preposition Resource data for Friday and Saturday if anything at all was
done to proactively position NorCal and other-state resources. As I stated,
the NICC, GACCs and some (not all) Fire Directors are notoriously
conservative in this area. As an AOBD I was an advocate of "conservative
over-ordering of aircraft," became somewhat notorious for having "big air
operations, but most of the time felt justified by the positive feedback
from those Type 1 and 2 ICs and OSCS for whom I worked.

I am at the point of apoplectic frustration when I see the 10s and 100s of
aircraft, crews and equipment descending on SZ on Monday. Not too little
too late, because it ain't over yet, but not enough soon enough.

Of course you are going to "get egg on your face" some of the time, or even
50% of the time. But what is the price of not doing this? In this case one
billion and climbing. Besides, that's what an AD AOBD like myself used to
get paid the big bucks for (grin).

That is not say that, from an air perspective, having 8 ATGSs, 5 Leads/ASMs,
20 Type 1s Helicopters, 20 Type 2s and 10 or so Type 3 Helicopters and every
airtanker in the system prepositioned on Saturday would have done any good
in those winds. But they would have been ready to pounce when conditions
allowed, which we all know they do now and then even during a sustained
Santa Ana, and not be 4-16 hours ferry time away.

However, the 200 STs Engines and 150 Crews I would have had there or enroute
ASAP on Friday night would have been effective, even if it were only to
prevent one of those fires from escaping extended attack. And these
resources would gave paid for themselves 100s of times over through the
prevention of that one major fire, along with the 200-500 burnt homes.

As I said in the previous post, it is very easy to engage in Monday morning
quarterbacking (which is an analogy more than appropriate in this case,
since the horses had in fact left the barn by Sunday night.)

But how many more sieges do we have to go through before this simple, simple
lesson gets learned. Unlike other more difficult issues such as fuels
reduction, this one's easily soluble. It's called having the cajones to
make sound risk vs gain decisions (in this case, economic decisions).

If by any chance someone wants to discuss this off-line, and by that I mean
any firefighter, news person, legislator, etc., feel free to call
970-921-5360. I've had it. Look at the million-fold additional exposure to
extremely high risk situations that we've exposed 1000s of our firefighters
to over the last 5 days.

And if per chance I'm wrong, and SZ did in fact have additional resources of
the magnitude WE KNOW ARE REQUIRED to respond to a significant Santa Ana
event, then I will gladly buy 50 dozen eggs and crack them over my face, one
by one, on the street outside South Ops. I know there are some out there
who would like to see worse occur to yours truly, but that's a way whole
'nother issue with a long history.

Pax, and be safe

Hugh Carson
10/25 Dear Concerned for the next time:

After taking a break from fielding press calls with similar questions and trying to contact our firefighters whose homes were/are in harms way, I thought I'd respond to your post. Although the FWFSA is a political entity, we have been careful not to get sucked in by the press into a political discussion about the fires whether it relates to preparedness, lack of resources etc. That being said, we of course have had a number of conversations with congressional representatives in the last few days behind-the-scenes as politicizing these events while our firefighters are on the ground doing their heroic best is not the time or place.

There are very valid questions that need to be addressed at the proper time. We can't address the preparedness of state or municipal fire agencies but can address those issues as it relates to federal crews of the five land management agencies.

There have been some odd decisions made in the last two weeks preceding the firestorm made by the Forest Service based upon their erroneous belief that the season was over. Two such examples are the word from the RO not to utilize the authority the Forest Service received from OPM to extend seasonal/temporary firefighters in Northern California forests and the decision to close out/ terminate aviation contracts.

These decisions coupled with stunning staffing losses on some SoCal forests may have had an impact on preparedness/the ability to get resources to certain fires and quite frankly may have played a key role in the loss of the Santa Clara-Mojave Ranger District complex on the Angeles National Forest along with vehicles.

We are thrilled and honored to have convinced two key players with exceptional experience & expertise on the issues facing our federal wildland firefighters in California and across the Nation to speak out on these issues with those we work with on Capitol Hill and select, trustworthy contacts in the press. We are hopeful their insight will ignite the efforts of Congress to address some serious federal land management agency fire program management issues.

This event was not a surprise. Yet again the ability to plan and prepare for such a widespread disaster is daunting. There is a real potential for another serious Santa Ana incident before Nov. 11th so the priority should be on the safety of our firefighters, their families and those they protect.

I do want to address one news sound/video bite I saw last night on CNN. It was of a municipal or state fire captain "ordering" his crew to save 100 homes. To me that was very disconcerting. The potential to compromise safety under such an order is extreme. I am hopeful that crew remains safe.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
10/25 Hi All...

I just made our pledge for Ken's run. This is such an amazing attempt and when he completes it, will be the most amazing feat ever. What can possibly be next? I can't understand how anyone DOESN"T pledge! So, all those not in So.Cal. currently fighting these record making fires, get on board! Who do you all think is available to help those 40+ firefighters who are injured? The Wildland Firefighter Foundation, that's who. And they can't continue to do it without your help. For those injured, their families, for Ken, and for all of us who have benefited from the many gifts the foundation has to offer, please make your pledge or donation now. We all thank you.

Heather's Mom

P.S. to all those working on the massive SoCal fires (including Heather's husband). Thanks, stay safe and don't toast your toes.....

10/25 Ab,

Several of us also saw and heard the chiefs comment on the national news about being able to stop the fires if they had had the helicopters and airtankers. Unfortunately, that was the only comment we heard and must confess to thinking the same thing as Aberdeen. Are you aware of a link or site one could go to and see or read the entire interview and be able to put the comment in its proper context. thanks

the cynic

I am aware of no site that has the entire news briefing. It was on myfoxla.com (internet wildfire coverage) as it occurred. A number of people reading the Hotlist who had fast internet capability saw it then. If you find it, please let us know. Ab.

10/25 49er Communications out of Nevada City, CA. just wrote:

In an effort to help out our So Cal customers, friends and all those who have come to the aid of So Cal firefighting endeavor, we will pay the shipping costs for orders going to So. Cal. It is effective for the duration of the fire, shipments to So Cal only.

Thank you,
Cristy Alexander

Check their ad in the Classifieds. Ab.

10/25 Ken Perry: best of luck w/ the world travels and the run: take care and enjoy yourself, if you can....!

Like the "dunes for p...ing....idea, reminds me of a road trip across w tx w/ no cover for over 100 miles for the first time in my life....!!! Amazing how we adapt and lose that modesty of the 'burbs in the desert environment!!! this sounds extreme!!

You're a hero to leave CA, with the current situation: but pls know that everyone back home appreciates this sacrifice and all of us responding to the fires have the best plans and strategies in mind: including dispatchers in ROSS!

We will "git her done". Engines, aircraft or pit toilets: all very necessary and all en route i'm sure. ...if not, I arrive for more computer time tomorrow pm!!

Heading to S Cal tomorrow and hoping like all the pledgers...for the best wx in Egypt, and S CAL !!! we all have our missions! Good luck on your adventure and i'll take care on mine to my first trip to San Berdu....

take care, be safe and we will be rooting for ya!
Tks for the run, again, and your pain is our pain, as always: supporting the WFF is always a good cause.

I hear several ff deployed, but ok in S Cal, and hope that no news is good news for no more info.....treat and releases make my day.....don't they??? Everyone be careful out there.

TX Lobo

Run, Ken, Run!

The 12 deployments were Orange County firefighters on the Santiago Fire on Oct 22 just before 1600 hours. I was getting so many inquiries and the little photo, that I put the appropriate posts in the Santiago Fire thread on the hotlist on a shelter deployment thread. It's here: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2253

10/25 Mr. Sprague,

I lived in the Forest Service residence at the Descanso Ranger Station during the 1940’s and early 50’s. I do remember my dad taking me with him to fires on North Peak (1945); Engineer Springs Rd and Hwy 79 in 1946 and another fire at Hwy 79 at Harrison Rd. Then the Conejos (1950) and Devils Punch Bowl (west side of the mountain down off King Creek Rd (1951) and also at the Jackson Mine Park site the same year. In 1952 we had another fire in Green valley on the Park and also another off old Hwy 80 about one mile west of the Descanso Junction and finally I was a firefighter on the Laguna, Boulder and Sunrise fires in the fall of 1970. I still have aged relatives who live in the area and I will check with them. Two were firefighters with CDF from 1940 through 1954 in that area.


10/25 Ab,

As I watch the news and read about the SoCal fires I get the sense that SoCal fire agencies were not prepared for this 2007 Santa Ana wind event?? I'm pretty certain that the weather forecast related to this wind event which normally gives about 3 days to prepare. The Santa Ana wind events are nothing new and they take out thousands of homes as we have all seen in the past. I realize the wind driven fires in SoCal are very difficult to stopped until weather patterns changes, but big time build up of resources will save homes and support the local firefighters. No one can say bad things about any of the "on the ground" and "in the air" structure protection and fire suppression efforts. They're unbelievable and have earned every right for praise. What I'm concerned about is - where they ready? That's the job of overhead fire personnel with the fire agencies involved. Did pre-staging take place? I hope yes. Or did they wait until the fires started and then scrambled for resources? I realize there are many homes to protect, but there are many resources in CA, Nevada and Oregon (agency and private) that could have been used in the pre-stage, rest up, and be ready to move quickly.

Concerned for "Next Time"

10/24 Last night, the FOX female reporter was incredulous that the State of California would allow inmates to help battle wildfires in our state. Weren’t the authorities afraid that they would cause problems – like run away, or do other horrible things while they were out on the fireline? I just want to say that the person she spoke with was right on top of it. I believe he was with CDC.

Ab – where would we be in a fire season without the Cal Fire camp crews, or the LA County inmate crews, or the CDC crews? They do a lot of great work, and I think there work goes unnoticed a lot of the time.


10/24 Ken's On His Way!

Beth Lynn and I just got home from taking Ken to Los Angeles to start the next stage in his latest adventure! It is an understatement to say he is excited. This is truly the trip of a lifetime for him, in so many ways.

As we were driving down the 14, Lori Greeno called to wish Ken bon voyage, with the promise of some of her divine homemade cookies upon his return! It was great to hear from her - as usual her timing was perfect. We love and appreciate you Lori!

Last night, I printed off the list of pledges and donations, and here's a picture of Ken with them and then tucking them into a pocket in his backpack (the one he will carry through the desert). Those of you who made a pledge or donation... thank you. I can't tell you how many times a day he checks that list. It is the biggest reason he is doing this, and I hope you know that you are with him, in that little mesh pocket! You will motivate him and keep him moving forward. Have no doubt he will finish - running, walking, or crawling... he WILL cross that finish line.

I also want to thank Ryan and Steve for spending a great time last night around the kitchen table with Ken. I know you helped relieve his anxiety about the trip and this huge challenge in front of him!

Here are a few more pictures of Ken's departure - loading up in our garage, saying goodbye at the airport, and then the last one I took of him as he walked away. Thank you again for sharing in the excitement of the preparation for this big day. Kenneth, no one is more proud of you than I am.


Thanks Wendy. I put the photos here; the beginning of another great Ken Perry story:
/pics/wff-ken07/run.php I'll be adding to these as time goes on, I hope.

Ken called me on his way to the airport with you. Great to hear from him! He sounded excited and we finalized arrangements for me to keep the information flowing on the wlf.com site. What a great idea to run the Sahara Desert. Ab.

10/24 California fires 102407 at 1800 hrs

MAP and
hotlist collection of socal maps: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2241

How many would be dead if the "Shelter In Place" policy had been enacted??

10/24 from MG:

Bay Area firefighters wait, less than patiently

10/24 Hugh,

Thanks for the kind words of encouragement, and the
phone call. And thanks everyone for the support you
have given to Vicki and the WFF.

I'm waiting for Wendy to get home, so she can take me
to LAX. I'm actually excited about flying on a
747...Never done that. Cobras, Blackhawks,
PB-4Y....etc. But never a 747.

Check in on my blog and here for updates on how your
investment is doing. Talk at you in a week or so..

Peace, KCP

10/24 Mr. John A. Sprague, Sr.

Fires in the Cuyamaca area I know of are the Conejos fire in 1950. Burned
from the west and over Cuyamaca Peak and Middle Peak.

Boulder fires in 1970 (same time as Laguna fire) Started in Boulder Creek
and burned up the west side of Cuyamaca Peak and Middle Peak.
There was a fire on the east and south side of North Peak in 1955 for maybe
a thousand acres or so.

Another fire on the top of North Peak in 1971 (Thousand acres?). In 1968
the Pine hills fire burned about 10,000 acres in the Pine Hills area.
Inaja Fire in 1956 started on Inaja reservation (Pine Hills area) and
burned to Dunbar lane, El Capitan Reservoir.

Thats about all I know of in the Cuyamaca area, large fires anyway. There
were some large fires there in the early 1900's but I don't have good
knowledge of that history.

K. Joseph

10/24 Ab,

I wanted to give one more send off message before Ken boards his plane tonight for Egypt. He called in yesterday afternoon and we chatted about his pending travel and physical challenge coming up. Lots of emotions swirl around Ken’s event - the current situation in California, the one year anniversary of losing five firefighters, and Ken’s own personal loss and physical obstacles in the past year or so. The current CA fire, rollover accidents, and burnovers, cause an increase in the calls we get from our families…. it’s tough for them… they tend to relive what they went through when they lost their firefighter.

We are honored to have Ken Perry once again run to raise funds for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the wildland community. Thanks for taking us along on your journey of compassion Ken. You are the poster child for our “Power of One” message… Run Ken Run!

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
10/24 The Martin Mars is coming from Canada.

Here are stats from FireDonkey and links to some photos of the beast from the wlf.com photo posted oh the hotlist forum. Ab.


10/24 Hello,

I happen to be in San Diego visiting my Mom and saying Hi to old friends. I can tell you that these folks down here have done one heck of a job under unbelievable conditions. Aircraft have been useless because of wind speed and velocity until yesterday. I have seen engines here from Sacramento, Rocklin, Napa, Placerville and Phoenix and Prescott, AZ.

Most people seem to have ignored the 100 foot defensible space laws. In fact they should call it survivable space as there are no guarantees that anyone will be there to defend it, anyway the cities and counties and forests of this area need to enforce these laws, or an alternative would be for insurance companies to demand vegetation clearances to be at least comply with the current law or they would not insure the property. But if you have a 2 acre lot forget the 100 feet from the house use fire safe vegetation management for all land under your control. It can be made safe for most fires during most years. But it is a flammable planet and all terrestrial vegetation can burn under the right conditions. Fire also burns rock if you want to count volcanoes.

I was here shortly after the Fires of 2003 and I thought it would wake people up to the need for good survivable space, it is the law in CA why isn't it enforced in SD county and city. It is at the peril of firefighters that these laws are not enforced. Let alone citizens.


10/24 Do you have any files or information on Cuyamaca Wildfires of the 1960’s?

Mr. John A. Sprague Sr.

We don't. Readers?
John, most firefighters who would have it are dealing with the current situation. Ab.

10/24 Hi Ab,

Coverage on Yahoo regarding the SoCal wildfires says "Frustration over the firefighting effort began to emerge Tuesday when a fire official said not enough had been done to protect homes."

Next to this quote is a picture of a house in flames with significant aerial and ground fuels butting up right next to the home.

Can someone put this into context, is the frustration over the lack of structure protection efforts, or the lack of homeowner preparation?


10/24 Dear Press and other entities who use WLF for wildland fire info:

All Press please visit:
10/23 After trying to save thousands of structures over the last several days and only losing a couple hundred, I was released from the wildfire that I was working on. Overall, even with all of the structural losses, the firefighting was successful...... No firefighter or civilian injuries and by far, more home were saved than lost.

As I returned home, nearly one mile from the main fire, I came upon a house with a wood shake roof that had just ignited. I had two choices to make: 1) I could turn a blind cheek and chalk it up to "just another house lost amongst the hundreds", or 2) Take action and make it among the thousands saved. The house was saved without risks to firefighters.

Yes, the wood shake roof was a bad choice by the homeowner, but that is someones house, their home, and their livelihood and they weren't educated about the risks.

That is but one of the many decisions wildland firefighters make each day.

Rogue Rivers
10/23 Ab,

I know Chief Prather personally and he did work very hard on the Blue Ribbon Commission. While not an officially named member I was assigned a lot of staff work by my former employer and we all worked our hearts out. The work was all validated too. Then to have those in government turn their collective noses up in the air and go about business (funny business in California’s legislature) was really a let down. I did see results recently in Los Angeles County when they rigidly enforced the structure clearance laws. Look at what the recent Canyon fire figures and compare those to the 1993 Topanga Fire. When I arrived on that incident in 1993 it was one hour old and already fifty homes were destroyed. Over 400 for the entire incident. This time, still fewer than 20 homes burned as of this writing.

There is an answer and much of it will involve both understanding and compromise before any agreements are inked. One thing for sure has to happen. Until a better fire defense system is found, further allowance of development in the wild lands has to be curtailed. In spite of all the accolades about heroic firefighters (all are due too!) this event triggers injury and deaths that just shouldn’t be tolerated in our society. Every time we attend one of these unfortunate events every one in this great nation is a loser. They all pay for the event some how. Either in tax funds or insurance premium hikes.

To continue to place a fire administrator in the position to have to inform loved ones and friends that one of our own will never be home again is not acceptable either. What we all need is a government at all levels that will step up to the plate and be responsible and make informed, wise decisions. To date they have let us all down terribly. And the facts have been provided to them on multiple occasions. They think kissing it will make it better. All it does is deceive the public we serve into thinking this will never happen again. But guess what? They are fooled repeatedly and never see the light. All the Committees and best intentions in the world will not prevent fires like Angora, Buckweed, Canyon and Ranch from occurring again. Fire is a natural part of the earth's ecology.

Normbc9 (SFPE)
10/23 Aberdeen,

I have invited you and others to spend some time down here before commenting as to your "expert opinions". In regards to your continued attacks on wildland fire protection and emergency response in California, you have never been in our shoes or had to walk (or run) the gauntlet.

You cannot present an "expert" or even informed decision unless you have been a participant in the pre-planning process, the risks involved, and most importantly, the response to the initial attack and extended attack phases of these fires and other emergencies.

As before, I invite those few that are hasty to jump into tirades of opposition or antagonism, before you jump, come down and walk in the shoes of others for a few days (weeks, years, decades, careers).

The invitation for visits and field trips, as well as ride-a-longs still stands for anyone interested. This process provides a two-way learning experience for everyone involved. The only caveat is that you must be fireline qualified and be willing to sign a volunteer agreement.

This is going to be a short post because I have to go back to work bright and early again.... until fire season hopefully slows sometime around January.

10/23 On the national edition of tonight's CBS News, the Fire Chief of Orange County stood in front of the cameras and claimed that the wildfires in his County could have been controlled if only there was adequate air support - air tankers and helicopters.

Based upon my 20+ years as an Type 1 Ops Chief, I would disagree, but that's not the thrust of this post.
Rather, I'd ask the Orange County Fire Chief that, given the fire-prone landscape that he's sworn to protect and the history of wildfires in that area over the past 20-30 years, the drought conditions, homes being built in the interface without generally accepted "Firesafe" construction and landscaping, and the repeated occurrence of Santa Ana wind conditions that affect all of Southern California causing a major competition for all available fire suppression resources: Chief, what have you done to prepare for such an event? Have you "gone public" asking for increased tax revenues from Orange County taxpayers to buy/rent/lease that aviation resources that you believe would have caught these fires? Have you told your County Commissioners and County Planners the fallacy of building homes in the WUI, given your county's long history of Santa Ana wind event wildfires? If not, why not?

Or, do you expect the citizens of Rhode Island, Alabama, Nebraska, Hawaii and the remainder of the other 49 States to indulge the Orange County building frenzy that is now bearing the foreseeable results of poor planning, poor decisions and poor funding by the locals involved?

Hurricanes in Key West; flooding in the Mississippi River flood plain; wildfires in Southern California: when are we going to make locals take reposonsibilty for their own actions, and the associated costs???


Aberdeen, you need to have seen the whole interview to understand the full meaning of the Chief's one line taken out of context. He has been an advocate for all the logical options you mentioned. Please, quit kicking people doing their job when they're so tired they can't see straight. Give me a break. We're all tired. Ab.

10/23 Tim:

I can hardly remember last week, so remembering the right decade
was a real stretch (this "getting old" stuff is for the birds). But I do
remember chatting with you the second day there (I think!!). Thx for
the correction!!

And for the reminder on what I think you are referring to as required
refresher training in GJT so I can get my lapsed red card back, yes, it will
be Year 3 and I'm going to lose my AOBD qual if I don't go out next year.
That indeed will be a watershed for me - not real sure if I've really left
it all behind and, judging by my avid re-interest in fire as evidenced by my
postings on the So Cal deal going down, I may see you in GJT next spring.

Ken Perry's inspiring good-bye message (scroll down a bit) really got the
emotion high for me this morning. I hope John Maupin and Dan Battreall are
reading this (they were in charge of my "12-step program" to leave fire

Everybody be cool and stay healthy. It sure ain't over yet.


10/23 Hugh,

Enjoyed reading about the "November 94 Malibu fire" but you might
want to check the dates. It was in 1993.

It remains the only fire that I got stuck in a snow-drift responding to.

Refreshers in March and May.

10/23 Dear Ab,

As Ken leaves for his run, I wanted to share a video with our community. Please take a few moments and watch what happens. See what your donations are doing. Enjoy the words that are read.. they were written by one of the Abs. The anniversary of the Esperanza Fire is near, you will see Lotzi's family, Jess' family, Storm King families and the many in between. This is dedicated to the children.

I hope this will capture the hearts of those who have not donated in the past and move you to help support keeping the memory alive of those we have lost. Ken your footsteps do make a difference.

I think in the fire world, people say......keep safe...instead of....I love you....So...Ken from all our kids
Keep Safe...

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Pledge for Ken

Our webstore has Engine 57 t-shirts and engine decals.
10/23 AB & All:

Finally some good news on the PSOB front:

Department of Justice Implements Plan to Enact Hometown Heroes Survivors
Benefit Act

The Department of Justice unveiled a new strategy to streamline the claim review process and address the backlog issue related to the Hometown Heroes Survivor Benefits Act at a recent hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Hometown Heroes Act of 2003 states that the families of public safety officers who suffer a fatal heart attack or stroke while in the line of duty may qualify for survivor benefits under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Program.

Families of three fallen firefighters testified at the hearing, detailing the difficulties they faced in attempting to claim survivor benefits from the Department of Justice (DOJ). The result: two denied claims, one pending claim and a combined five years of delay.

In a statement issued at the hearing, Domingo Herraiz, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance which administers the PSOB program, vowed, “We have taken and will continue to take steps to decrease the time it takes for survivors to be given an answer on their claims.” Those steps include additional PSOB staff, a case management system that enables claimants to track the status of their case, outreach to public safety agencies and—most importantly—a plan to expedite the claims process.

As of October 4th, DOJ reported 202 pending cases, 21 approvals, 57 denials and 26 appeals. The department has been criticized for major delays in processing claims and for rulings that, in the words of Herraiz, are “too restrictive.”

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated that the DOJ is “delaying implementation of the law and disregarding the clear will of Congress to grant surviving families death benefits in a timely, fair manner.”

Herraiz recently addressed the semi-annual meeting of CFSI’s National Advisory Committee regarding the issue. “I am not pleased with our progress over the last year,” stated Herraiz, who admits that the claim review process has taken longer than expected. “It’s time for me to accept responsibility. I can take charge of my organization and I will fix it,” he promises.

The department states that the initial backlog is the result of a complete revision of PSOB regulations following the implementation of the Hometown Heroes Act. The regulations were finalized in September of last year. DOJ maintains that most claims currently under review are waiting to receive additional evidence from the agency for which the public safety officer worked, causing additional delay.

Herraiz calls the internal issues at the DOJ a long-standing problem—one that he plans to resolve. “You will see a big change. In three months, I guarantee a difference with the Hometown Heroes claims. We can do better and we will do better.”

In an attempt to enact these changes, DOJ released two policy memorandums relating to the processing of survivor benefit claims. The memos, signed by Director Herraiz, clarify the definitions of two terms contained in the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act of 2003.

The Hometown Heroes Act, which was unanimously passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bush in December of 2003, stated:

“if a public safety officer dies as the direct and proximate result of a heart attack or stroke, that officer shall be presumed to have died as the direct and proximate result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty, if--

(1) that officer, while on duty--
`(A) engaged in a situation, and such engagement involved nonroutine stressful or strenuous physical law enforcement, fire suppression, rescue, hazardous material response, emergency medical services, prison security, disaster relief, or other emergency response activity; or
`(B) participated in a training exercise, and such participation involved nonroutine stressful or strenuous physical activity…
(3) such presumption is not overcome by competent medical evidence to the contrary.

The manner in which DOJ was defining the term “nonroutine stressful or strenuous physical activity” has caused some concern among survivors and the public safety community at large. In several cases, DOJ has denied benefits to the survivors of public safety officers who have died in the line of duty from a heart attack or stroke based at least in part on the assumption that the emergency activities the officers were undertaking were “routine” for a public safety officer.

“I believe it is safe to say that any firefighter or law enforcement officer will tell you no emergency situation is ever ‘routine,’” stated Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute. “Our nation’s public safety officers put their lives on the line every day. A situation which they may encounter on a regular basis can quickly escalate into a catastrophic situation. While the men and women of our nation’s fire service are often prepared for almost any situation, the stress involved in their jobs is anything but routine and can take an enormous toll both physically and mentally.”

The new DOJ policy memorandum clarifies the meaning of the term “nonroutine stressful or strenuous activity” and specifically states that “Responding to an emergency call shall presumptively be treated as non-routine.”

Many survivors have also expressed concern over how DOJ has implemented the phrase “competent medical evidence to the contrary” in past decisions. The Department has often asked for as much as ten years of medical records and some survivors have reported infinite requests for more medical records from DOJ staff. The new policy memorandum clarifies that medical records shall only be requested if the information provided in the claim file suggests factors outside of the line of duty may be responsible for the heart attack or stroke. The memo further clarifies that “medical-history records requested of the claimant will be reviewed for mitigating evidence in favor of the claim.”

“While we believe this a positive development in resolving this issue, there is still more work to be done,” said Mr. Webb. “It is now up to DOJ to implement the new policy and to make it work. Too many families have been left out in the cold waiting for DOJ to do what Congress unanimously intended for them to do. It is imperative that fire service continue to monitor the situation to make sure the families of our public safety officers are treated fairly and their claims are processed efficiently and as Congress intended.”

Casey Judd
Business Manager

10/23 Foam:

This conflagration is one for the books. I am asking everyone to document this event. We are witnessing something that sometimes only happens once in a life time. You folks out there on engines I hope are using FOAM or some type. I know that FOAM is not always environmentally friendly, but there are several manufactures that do have green friendly FOAM. I won't get into any war stories, so if you got it, use it. I you need it ask for it. I don't work for a FOAM company, but I do know how effective CAFFS Units are. Finally, what ever you do. Be aware of your surrounding, watch out for the other guy and Think Safety First. God Be With All Of You!


10/23 Ab,

The AP is reporting that a dozen or so FF had to deploy.... yesterday.

Be Safe

Calif. Fires Consume Hundreds of Homes

The wildfires claimed at least two lives. An unidentified civilian died of burns in a fire in Santa Clarita, in northern Los Angeles County, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jay Nichols said. Another man, Thomas Varshock, 52, was found dead Sunday.

Overall, 45 people have been injured, 16 of them firefighters.

A dozen firefighters battling blazes in Orange County had to deploy emergency shelters, a last resort when they are surrounded by flames, Orange County Fire Authority Chief Chip Prather said.

I added this to the to the socal FF injuries/deaths/burnovers hotlist page. Ab.

10/23 Hi Ab,

I'm a resident of Northern Cal and a longtime volunteer firefighter/emt in my county (remember that 80% of our nation's firefighters are volunteers).

I have a thought on the Santa Ana winds. I was raised in Ramona, graduating in 1971 from high school. In 1969, as I rode the bus to school a few days before Halloween, we kids saw a fire start from a downed power line with Santa Ana winds blowing. When all was said and done, 300,000+ acres burned, nearly all the way to the coast. My Dad was a San Diego county correctional officer with a prisoner line crew and was gone for a week, and stated he had never seen such a devious fire when propelled by the Santa Ana winds. My cousin is a retired CDF captain who ran air-ops out of Ramona Airport and was a firefighter during that fire and has the same awed memories of a fire driven by these winds.

Nearly 40 years later, the same wind events are causing the same problem. A 2004 fire in Ramona, almost to the same day of October, with Santa Ana winds should have been a recent enough memory to those who decide when to call fire season or prepare for an event of this magnitude. These winds occur every year, always at the end of fire season. They are as certain as the sun rising and setting. Should CalFire have a policy of calling the end of fire season in SoCal after this wind event has concluded? Should they have prepared sooner for this event knowing what Santa Ana wind speed is capable of? I am not privy to the planning of an event or need to worry about budgets, when to decide fire season is over with, etcetera. All I do know are the memories of living with chapped knees (girls wore skirts to school then), lips and elbows during the Santa Ana wind season.

As I write this, I am concerned for my cousins and elderly aunts and uncles who have been evacuated from Ramona, sister and niece evacuated from the Escondido and Rancho Bernardo areas. My concern for them extends to the women and men involved in this event and for all local Strike Teams leaving our northern counties to assist those in need. These Santa Ana winds are something to behold.

Here, in northern Cal, we have a north blown wind event during summer months, when we have "red flag" warnings. It is nothing compared to Santa Ana winds.

Please keep safe and keep safe and most of all, keep safe.


10/23 hello ab,
we have posted a new Google Earth project on our website which shows current (usually within last 6-12 hours) MODIS satellite heat detections and the fire perimeters for the 2003 socal fires on our website:


there is a link on the right that says 'Socal Fire Intel'
if you click on the link, it loads the 2003 fire perimeters and current infrared heat from MODIS into Google Earth.

feel free to post this link anywhere on the hotlist that you feel will be useful, and thanks for the forum!

NorthTree Fire GIS

10/23 All the posts about ICE and emergency information.

Here is a product already on the market.


10/23 Good points Philip.

Another suggestion for those actively engaged in the fire fight: A 3x5 size index card
with ICE and other personal medical information can be taped into the inside top of
a hardhat/helmet without affecting the integrity of the hardhat/helmet. Information
readily available without searching through wallet or cell phone.

Blessings Brothers and Sisters.....be safe.


10/23 Hugh,

Check out the message sent in by Letterman on 10/2 RE: Air Resources. Also see Lobotomy's on 10/7 RE: ERCs...

Everything was let go from contract because an "Adequate" number of Nat. helicopters will still be available.....

You're correct, we used to stay on contract and be available to reposition for such events -- not to say you'd want to fly in that wind -- but at least you'd be there when you are needed. Not this year. Our helicopters were let go at the end of the MAP, 12 days ago.... Would have been $2,400 a day to keep it on and staffed and ready to respond. Oh well, we'll see when the new color reports come out this time.

I think the comment, "we will reassess....fall season etc." says it all.

Sign me: Stop making sense (it hurts my brain)

10/22 I saw a bunch of folks down there on the ground today
that were up against a wall, and even though they
won't see this for a while (I'm Sure), I wanted to say
that they are doing a hell of a job in just plain
crappy circumstances. As it usually is in SoCal this
time of year.

I flew the fires outside of San Bernardino (Slide and
Grass). Very few resources, no air support (due to
turbulence) until late in the day. Too many home lost.
But a very professional job, to say the least.

Ken Kempter was OPS on the Slide....don't have to tell
you he's good dude. Last thing he said to me as we
departed was, "If I don't talk to you before
Wednesday, good luck in Egypt." 4940B, on the Grass
Fire, said, "last time I talked to you was on the
Inyo." "you weren't in the pond, were you?" I said.
"No, I was the guy in the white truck."...

To be honest, it feels kind of strange to be leaving
for the race. However, I learned a long time ago that
one guy is not going to make or break it. I'm not THAT
GOOD at what I do. And when I see the spirit and kick
assed-ness (if that's even a word) of the folks we have
out there, (when it truly hits the fan) I'm truly not
worried. And the quotes above, I think, describe that.
You're in the middle of a firestorm, and you have the
wherewithal to either say "Good luck" or "Thanks" for
something that happened 4 months ago.....You see what
I mean? Cool!
No matter what anybody says about you.....Cool.

One of the thing I miss about being a Hotshot and
Jumper, and I remember thinking the same thing in
2003, is the ingenuity of how we (all
firefighters, but especially the fed dudes) get things
done. I remember (I think it was a fire east of
Redding??? or maybe along Hwy 50 in 90 or so) going
out and stealing garden hose and sprinklers from from
houses up river, and setting them up around houses
down river....then moving them back up river...and
finally bringing them back to their original owners.
It worked! and everyone could water their garden when
it was all over.....with the same hose and sprinkler
they had.....they never knew it had been "borrowed".

Anyway, I've begun to rant. I will be out there again
tomorrow, but then I will be going to North

Keep up the good work everyone! I'm positive it's not
over (regardless of what the experts say).... so do
what needs to be done...be safe...and I'll be back out
there on the 7th of November......or maybe the
8th...kinda depending on whether I can fit my feet
into my boots or not. I'm looking forward to B!tchn
stories, and pics. I'm sure there are already a few
gigs of them stored in cameras...

Thanks EVERYONE for your donations to the WFF. But
let's not need that money. Okay?

Peace, KCP

Send us updates, Ken. Good luck. Ab.
10/22 To honor the memory of the Esperanza fallen firefighters lost one year ago,
you are invited to observe a moment of silence at noon on Friday, October
26th. I also ask that the U.S. flag be lowered to half-staff on Friday.
Our thoughts are with the families of the lost firefighters and San
Bernardino employees.

Southern California once again finds itself in the midst of a firestorm.
This is going to be a very challenging week, and I want to emphasize that
safety always come first. Please be extra-vigilant with regard to your
personal safety and that of others.


Vicki A. Jackson, Acting Regional Forester
Pacific Southwest Region
US Forest Service
10/22 Brenda, Jason McKay's sister, mentioned having your contact info up to date
so people can contact your relatives in case of emergency.

One good method to supplement your personal contact info in your wallet or
purse is known as ICE. I have a few close family members phone numbers
programmed into my cell phone under the word ICE. Should I be in an
accident, emergency personal in the hospital can call:

ICE: my wife
ICE: brother
ICE: sister

They know to look for cell phone directory info under the letter "I".

As SNOPES notes at: http://www.snopes.com/crime/prevent/icephone.asp

this system should only be considered a backup plan. Your cell phone might
end up under water, crushed in an accident, etc. Having a written copy of
the info on your person is probably more important (meaning I've learned
something today from snopes and will act on it).

As the snopes site notes, paramedics probably won't have the time to look
in your cell phone, but if you're in ICU (where I've worked in such
situations) the staff might look there if they have no other info. Reminds
me of the guy I saw hit by a car last week. Wonder if he had his contact
info on him? Who was he and who would need to be contacted? I was too
busy stabilizing the scene (and had a nurse on site immediately) to look in
a cell phone. Fortunately he was treated and released according to the on
line newspaper I read from the town I happened to be driving through.

Philip E. Hyatt
10/22 Ab...

You probably have this but thought it informative for all to know...

California Joint Incident Briefing
10/22/2007 1000 hrs

CA-Intel-102207.pdf (41K pdf file)


10/22 animation of socal plumes from NOAA


10/22 This came in second hand... Ab.


Mornin - Yesterday afternoon the Santa Clara Mojave Rivers District Office was lost to the Buckweed fire. Buildings, vehicles, equip located at the site were destroyed. Wanted to let you know in case you need to reach someone at that District. I will be sending more info out later today as regarding lines of communication, ect. I do not yet know if employees have suffered other personal losses as a result of these fires. We do have a meeting this morning at 9am with the affected District employees. More later as I learn more. Please keep our employees and their families in your thoughts and prayers. thanks

Jody Noiron
Forest Supervisor
Angeles NF, R5

10/22 NBC just cut in with a special report about the fires in SOCAL


CNN has had it on as well. The "Malibu fire" has gotten the big coverage because of the celebrity, but San Diego is in very bad shape and now several fires in San Bernardino and log-jammed evacuations there.

Winds were tipping over semi trailers, some blow steadily, but there are erratic gusty and swirly wind conditions in some areas.

The fires in San Diego cover 100,000 acres (Ramona-Witch; Rancho Bernardo-, etc 4 fires right now), are involving 250,000 evacuations, including hospitals and nursing homes. UCSD burn center is treating 12 people for fire-related injuries. All police have been called in to help with evacs. Some evacuees are being directed to the QualCom Stadium where the Chargers play, but that only holds 60-67,000 people. San Diego officials have said that there is not enough personnel or equipment to fight fire in all areas. They're picking and choosing, doing the best with what they have. The National Guard is strained with many being in Iraq. The ones near San Diego are on border patrol. Those forces are being pulled off to help with evacuations. If the winds do not abate, it's thought most of these fires will merge as they did in 2003.

Firefighters, do not take chances. No home is worth a life.

Check this, Sammie, for live San Diego coverage: http://media.myfoxla.com/live/ Ab.

10/22 Lots of real time information on the Hotlist. You don't have to be a member to view. Ab.


10/22 Just adding my 2 cents

First off I'm not trying to defend our dispatch
centers but the question I have is "How many crews
were actually available in Ross from the North Zone".
I know my crews are running around like chickens with
their heads cut off trying to get numbers up, now that
there are fires going. Alot of people weren't even
thinking of fires because the 1039's were leaving and
they thought that So Cal had alot of moisture so there
was no need.

But on the other hand why didn't South Ops put out a
request to have crews available if they knew the wind
event was going to happen. I see an error on both the
command centers and the crews.

Just my thoughts

10/22 Dear FS FIREFIGHTER and Just A HotShot

The Santa Ana event prediction has been out there for at least two-three
days now, but predictive services both in the NWS and fire agencies know
that the high setting into the Great Basin will trigger Santa Ana's. And
perhaps that has been setting up for more than the timeframe above.

Sooooo .... I too was wondering Sunday night, and without trying to Monday
morning quarterback.

But with all the hullaballoo over cutting So Cal forces and capability over
the past 2 years (as "displaced californian" terms it "because of the work
that has not been done, and has been undone, since 2003," if there was any
significant movement of adjacent forces (AZ, Nor Cal, and NV) into So Cal on
Saturday to bolster and reinforce against what we all knew was coming. And I
mean significant, on the order of 10s or 100s of STs of Engines and Crews,
aircraft, Ty 1 and 2 Teams, etc.

Though I tended to "major" in aviation since 1987, I started fighting fires
in '69, did 3 years as Logistics Coord/Center Mgr in the mid-80s at the
Western Slope Fire Coord Center in GJT and BLM Utah State Office (pre-EGBCC)
so I know what the issues were then, and suspect they have not changed much.

If you see a semi-truck coming at you on the wrong side of the highway, you
tend to take steps to avoid the accident.

My feeling is that our past responses to forecasted events with a high
probability of occurrence (eg, Santa Ana's, widespread dry lightning) has
usually been woefully inadequate. Woefully.

With certain notable exceptions at the GACC level, the folks at NICC and
GACCs tend to think pretty small. And of course "THE BLINDING LIGHT OF
HINDSIGHT" (as one British railway accident investigator put it) makes our
criticism easy.

But I agree with you, FS Firefighter, and it is frustrating. And I sense
what "Just A HotShot" is trying to say about not engaging in finger-pointing
and frustration as all this comes down, and I respect where he's coming
from, but highly disagree that we should suspend our disbelief even for more
than one minute as we see this same movie reoccurring, again and again.
What we need to remember is this basic fact: there's not a hell of a lot you
can do in the face of 80 mph Santa Ana's except evacuate what you can, save
lives, make good risk-managed decisions, and keep yourself and your crew
safe. But what we as an entire fire community don't appear to be learning
is the value of absolute preparedness for worst-case scenarios.

And what really blew me away is this statement posted on CNN.com this
morning (www.cnn.com/2007/US/10/22/wildfire.ca/index.phpl):

"You do not expect something to stretch our resources to this magnitude,"
Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Sam Padilla told The Associated Press. "To
try and staff something this big, you cannot predict it."

Read it and weep. Enough said.

So, in order not to pre-judge this, and operate on a factual basis, can we
get a list of outside resources that were prepositioned into So Cal prior
to, say, 0600 Sunday? Shouldn't be hard.

The proof of part of this issue will lie in that pudding.


10/22 Hi all,

I missed the news yesterday... so I was surprised to So Cal suddenly on fire when I got online this morning. From what I could put together from the South Ops News & Notes (the only place I could get official info - no current GACC or NICC sit report)... it looks like 14 fires total?

I can't believe it because it's so familiar to the same week four years ago. I can't believe it either because after all the after action work we did then, from outside now, it seems already as if some of the same mistakes are being repeated. I hope not, for everyone's sake - the public's and our own folks. My stress level today shot through the roof - and I'm not even there to do anything to help... but I feel helpless being so far away and not being involved.. I also feel sick... because of the work that has not been done, and has been undone, since 2003.

You all take care of each other and try to keep it real this week... in 2003, there was a lot of pressure from a lot of places to do ridiculous things. I will be thinking of you all in So Cal, and of the Esperanza this week.

My biggest lesson from then: don't be afraid to ask stupid and obvious questions and to make sure they're answered - I have found in major chaos these are often the most important ones and the ones people come back to in the months (and years) afterward.

Take care and for crying out loud - be safe - and don't be afraid to walk away if it's not right...

- displaced californian
10/22 Hi Ab,

New fire started approx. 5:30 a.m. 10/22, Lake Arrowhead area. Conflicting reports of 35-70 acres, well-established in the Grass Valley drainage area. Evacuations of the Trinity/Modoc subdivisions are in progress and being hampered by multiple downed power lines in the area. Earlier reports had active fire 50' from some homes and structure protection needed. Rim Of The World school district has closed all schools for the day. IC asking for resources from anywhere.

This is an area that was evacuated (but not impacted) in the Old Fire in 2003. Thursday is the 4th anniversary of the start of the Old Fire, so everyone is understandably on edge. Questionable whether or not they will be able to put any air resources on it because of the winds.

10/22 Just a Hotshot is absolutely correct.

My comments were born of frustration, many frustrations. I will attempt to heed his advice
and channel that energy in a more positive manner.


10/21 One of the earliest lessons I learned in life was to "keep my eye on the ball," with the goal of hitting the ball and avoiding having the ball hit me. It was critical to phase out distractions to accomplish this task to the best of my ability.

As this Santa Ana continues to manifest itself for the next 48-72 hours as predicted, we, as members of the wildland firefighting community should feel it is our duty to minimize, rather than promote, distractions to those involved with the efforts in Southern California.

Obviously, this is going to be an event of proportions similar to 2003, where great efforts were spent to determine lessons learned in the aftermath of that catastrophe (e.g. MCS Publication Southern California Firestorm). Surely folks will speak out at that time about organizational issues affecting suppression capacities.

It has been my experience that there is always some factor limiting our effectiveness, but we get the job done as safely as possible regardless. In monitoring this discussion forum, I have been watching frustration levels rise for some time. Undeniably the current dysfunction between labor and management has created significant stress for many individuals. It's unavoidable that this background stress in being taken into shifts which may not end until mid-week.

This is a time for crew cohesion, not feeding the fire. There are plenty of ways to address your frustrations, and if you want to strike while the irons are hot, write a letter to your legislators, not your fellow firefighters and their families who use this site. This is no time for frivolous distraction, as mother nature is sure to throw some funny pitches this week.

Just a hotshot
10/21 Ab,

The 60 Minutes segment The Age of Mega-Fires is available for viewing on the cbs.com website.


10/21 As I recall our illustrious leadership has put out the BS... ooops, I mean 'talking points' that included the concept of moving resources to where they my be needed and that would keep our initial attack capability up to levels that it should be. They said this because even these morons know that we do not have the MEL capability that Congress desires.

Now, this strong Santa Ana event has been predicted for days, and locally we have prepared for it. Why did not our moronic regional leadership move some of the water logged resources from Northern Cal down to SoCal as they have long said they would do? Could it be the same reason they balked at letting troops go to firefighters memorials? Or is it that they are just clueless?

Or, have some of the more politically vocal folks on They Said hit the nail on the head?

I am so frustrated and so sure that we are in a death spiral that I do not know where to turn.

10/21 '94 Canyon Malibu Fire

As I was the AOBD on the November 94 Malibu fire that burned 600 homes in one day (mansions really including Ali McGraw's place), I wanted to offer some lessons learned to whomever is running the air show, knowing full well each situation is very different. However, the Ranch Fire appears to be in exactly the same area (Pepperdine Univ area) so here are some "lessons I learned" - they may or may not apply. But in case this thing really gets to rockin' into a multi-day event, here are some thoughts.

1. Malibu State Park just down from Pepperdine is ideal for staging Type 1 Helicopters; The 94 Calabasas Fire (sp??) was the first instance of LAC FD using Type 1s and they quickly became believers. You will need lots of LE for crowd control.

2. We ran Type 2 and 3 helicopter missions out of Pepperdine

3. Let the pilots (LA entities have Chief Pilots who are KEY) work out flight routes, then make them known ASAP

4. We dipped seawater successfully off the Santa Monica Pier. I had 6 Type 1s in a daisy chain going up Topanga, load and return, continuously on Nov 4. I shut down the airtankers, which caused unimaginable political pressure and backlash, but I stuck to my guns and was strongly supported by LAC.

5. I had 40+ helicopters from 7 agencies: policy/procedures was potentially a huge issue but with some "win-win" sweet talk approaches (yes, I can do sweet talk) we basically adopted IHOG standards relative to PPE, crew haul, etc. (this was during the Draft 4 days of IHOG but I never brought the document out, just had excellent and supportive LA County IC and OSC)

6. Cost apportionment is huge so get on top of that ASAP (recommend an ASGS devoted just to that)

7. Remember, LA City and LA County ships fly at night doing rescue missions as part of their job. Repeat, as part of their job. They train for this and do it daily (or nightly!!) So don't flip your lid if you're a fed: remember risk vs gain. If people are dying in their back yards, then the risk of a properly planned mission is well worth it. However, watch the "chaos factor."

8. I had the luck to have 2 of the best ATGSs in the business, Kandarian and Chestnut, when I arrived. They made all the difference in the world.

9. At my ATGS' instruction (I always figured as an AOBD I worked for them), I spent the first 6 hours at Pepperdine with the COML getting a highly chaotic frequency situation straightened out. It was so bad the Type 1 heavies were ready to quit (and if that is the case, you know it's bad). That fire was 18,000 acres, relatively small, but highly congested with fire and media aircraft. Basically it was an East-West split from the ocean to the North with the dividing line just with each portion having both RW and FW discrete air-air and air-grounds - a pain for the pilots to switch but I had the Ty 2 and 3 helicopters restricted to the west side with only Ty 1s operating on the east in Topanga Cyn, so there was not much crossover of aircraft geographically.

10. Had upwards of 10+ media helicopters but they stayed outside the TFR and the ATGSs did a masterful job of letting them in to get footage. They behaved well, recognizing the chance of an NMAC or worse was extremely high.

11. Resist political pressure to perform unsafe missions.

When I arrived early Wednesday in on Nov 4 of 1994, there was a couple of Leads (Tachman was one), 2 ATGSs, 5 Type 1 Helicopter Managers, numerous CDF and LA Cty/City fly crews, and nothing else.

I looked at Draft 4 (of 5) of the IHOG on the seat next to me and said, "See ya' later, piggie, this is gonna be an interesting one." And it certainly was. Helicopters were landing and taking off at will out of Pepperdine, the 6 Type 1s I had transferred from the fire I was on the in the Cleveland (Ortega) had chosen the State Park as their refuel/landing area/helibase (the 5 helicopter managers were pretty busy with crowd control).

I called my ASGS Mark Sayles who had stayed back at the Ortega Fire and said, "Man, I'm drowning already, get your butt down here!" which of course Mark proceeded to do at a high rate of speed and, in his inimitable magic way, along with some great Type 1 Helicopter Managers like Mike Hopf, had everything organized by nightfall!!)

Hopefully LA County learned a lesson from 1994 because they were going to "shift out" Wednesday night (Nov 4th) after me and the IC/OSC/LSC had spent until 1:00 a.m. getting set for the next day. I was not aware that this was their policy (union stuff), and if you wanted to see a grown man cry, that was me when the OSC stated I'd have a new OPS in the morning. The LAC IC got that stopped ASAP.

There were a few times during that first and second day when I started to regret having called South Ops from the Ortega to volunteer to be the Malibu AOBD (with my IC Bob Smart's and AOBD's Ron Raley's permission). Especially with the Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles on the horn asking me why in hell his helicopters weren't flying in Topanga with the heavies (and in front of the cameras of course). But at least from the air standpoint I and others felt it was a pretty successful example of quickly organizing some order out of total chaos. It remains absolutely fascinating and incredible to me how good we collectively all are at doing that - the synergy is absolutely beautiful to watch and be part of.

Good luck to whomever has got the AOBD position today!!!

And if there isn't one available, well, I sure would ...... (forget that, I didn't take my fire refresher this year so I wouldn't get a red card and be so dam*ed tempted) but I'd do it again in a heartbeat, folks.

Hugh Carson

10/21 Sorry to jump right into this. Most of us have been reading the hotlist and know that CalFire firefighters have been burned over as well as some civilians... Here are a couple of articles.

Thanks to all who are posting responsibly and not adding to the rumor mill.


Here's an article that seems to clarify the injuries and fatalities. From the LA Times;


In San Diego County, where two major fires erupted, one person was reported killed and four burned in the fast-moving Harris Fire along the rugged U.S.-Mexico border. By mid-afternoon it had scorched 3,000 acres and forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes in an area about 75 miles east of downtown San Diego. The person killed and those burned were thought to be undocumented migrants walking northward across the hilly terrain, officials said.

Four firefighters were also injured in a "flash-over" when fire roared over their vehicle. The four were airlifted to UC San Diego Medical Center burn center. Their condition was not released.


SoCal injuries link



10/21 Hi Ab,

I have spoken to immediate family firefighters who are on the incident at Castaic and they tell me it is much like the 1993 weather type which resulted in so many damaging fires that year. I guess sustained whirls are common and spotting up to one third of a mile is not uncommon today so yes it is definitely time to really be alert and don’t forget the LCES.


Norm, I don't know which of the many fires (3 near LA?) you're talking about... OK a Hotlist poster says it's the Ranch Fire. Ab.

10/21 KNBC has been showing a bunch of video of fires in
Malibu, Simi Valley, Agua Dulce, etc. etc. Is this
just file video? I could have sworn that NorthOPS said
that fire season was over a few weeks ago. In fact I
was ABQ last weekend and when we were released from
the fire there, SWICC didn't know what to do with us,
becasue it was Sunday and NICC was closed for the
weekend. I guess when all the money was used up on
ther rest of the nations fires, we had to close
shop......WTF? When are these "fire experts" in top
positions going to figure out that a little bit of
rain during a prolonged drought isn't going to make a
dent when it happens right before Santa Ana season?
Are you smarter than a 5th grader?


10/21 Serious wind-driven fires in Socal:


Be Safe.


10/21 A couple weeks ago Steve sent out some information about Spring training at Truckee Meadows Community College at the Regional Training Center (RTC) in Reno. The RTC is conveniently located right off of Dandini Blvd North of 395 across from the Sheriff's office.

There are a few classes offered that would be of great benefit to the wildland folks. Some of them are the recommended classes that we did not require you to take, but could help you a lot, especially now that you have a little experience.

Here are the ones I recommend if you can fit them in your schedule. The TMCC course list that Steve sent out is attached to this message.

* L-180 Human factors on the fireline. This is the first in the series of leadership courses
* L-280 Followership to Leadership. This is the second in the series of leadership courses and is recommended for many of your positions. These leadership classes increase in intensity as you work your way up the ladder and could be helpful if you eventually get into a leadership position like a Unit Leader of some kind or INCM.
* S-260 Incident Business Management. I would put the highest priority on this class. By now you know how important the paperwork side of the job is.

Joe Wood
10/21 Ab,

One year ago next week, my son woke me a little after 1 a.m. to let me know he was going to a fire. He worked on BDF E56 at the time and as usual hugged him and told him I loved him and for he and the guys to be safe. He sent me a text as they approached the fire, "Dad, this is a bad one, I'll see you in a few days." Little did we all know. E56 was near E57 during the incident. I am a PCF Captain with our local dept. I was listening to the radio when it went down a few hours later. Enough said, the rest is now history.

The Santa Ana's are here again. You can imagine how it felt as the phone rang again this morning about 2:30 a.m. He now works on Crew 5 and they were being called to a fire. Oh the things that went through my head again. Going back to sleep was going to be difficult. The hugs were given, the "I love you's" said and off he went.

I write this after reading Mrs. McKay's poem this morning to remind all of the parents, brothers, sisters, and family members it is okay to tell those strapping young men and yes, even the girls how you feel about them. Applaud them for their dedication and loyalty to their profession. And as Mrs. McKay pointed out, you don't have to know them to say "thanks".

Take a few minutes to say a prayer for all of our men and women who put themselves in harms way for all of us.

Today, to all of them on the way to the So Cal fires, may God watch over them, one and all.


A Firefighters Dad

Many of these emails touch me, but this one -- with the Santa Ana winds upon SoCal -- got to me. One very fitting tribute to our E57 firefighters is to appreciate and share from the heart with those around you. Thanks, Dad. Ab.

10/21 I wonder if the R5 director of Fire is watching the news this morning and can
understand that fire season in the southern part of his region is still on. He seems
to normally ignore this fact.

10/21 Bonnie: that poem was beautiful and I have printed it to read again.
My heart goes out to you and yours. Well said!

TX Lobo

10/21 LPF-C1

Thank you, we appreciate you in the time of our loss, you and the rest of RD 5
(line firefighters) will always be our brothers and sisters. We will remember.

CALFIRE AND RD 5 (LPF) have made the news (due to our tragedies) too
many times in the past years, we feel the pain of October 26 as well, stay strong
my brothers and sisters of the USFS RD 5.

Fire Captain B CALFIRE

10/20 Sounds like there's a wind driven fire that started a bit ago in socal...



10/20 60 minutes: watch it... tomorrow night.


Hopefully this isn't too late to post, or it hasn't been posted previously ...

On Sunday evening, October, 21, 2007, the CBS News show "60 Minutes" is
expected to feature a story on wildland fire and the impacts of global
warming. 60 Minutes airs Sundays at 7 p.m. ET/PT, check your local listings
for the broadcast time in your area.

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/60minutes071016.doc (363K doc file)

A Happy California Cow

10/20 Losses

"These dedicated men died while serving their country, and I extend our deepest sympathies to their families. Their sacrifice demonstrates the level of commitment, heroism, and character that is required of a Forest Service firefighter. I believe there is a level of commitment and character that is required of any public servant. There may be other jobs that are more glamorous or jobs that don't require you to navigate, of course, the Beltway traffic every morning, or stay late when issues are breaking; but these are important jobs, and they require a great deal of dedication."

~~ Acting Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conners comments (10/11/2007) at the 60th Annual Honor Awards Ceremony regarding the losses on the Esperanza and Elk fires.

10/20 Dearest Ab,

I have read "They Said" every day for the past year. It makes be still feel close to the firefighters that helped me and my family during that tragic time. I wrote a poem the other day. I am hoping to get it on PE.com, but....

I still have thoughts of wanting to hug each and every firefighter I see, and tell them to stay safe and thank them for their support, they will never know how much it meant to us. Of course, going around hugging firefighters could get me put away, so.., I stay content to just thank them and buy them lunch if we happen to be in the same restaurant. You have to do that without them knowing though, they put up a stink, lol.

Anyway, the day is almost here, my family and I have been really feeling it with a paralyzing fear. Up until then we say, "I wonder what Jason was doing last year at this time?" Soon, that will end. My heart goes out to all, including my one daughter, who has to work that day, I feel it's going to be tough. But we are all doing this together, and that does help.

Here's the poem:

It’s been one year of thousands of moments, we have missed you so
The emptiness within our hearts, stays with us as we go.
The Santa Ana winds are blowing, reminding us of then,
When thoughts of saving lives meant more, from that you could not mend.
We pray the loss of life you gave, was not something made in vain
That people now protect their homes, with space away from flames
And always be the first to go, when told that danger’s coming
The painful outcome for not, is very cold and numbing
Your love within us always remains like you, we pass it on
The firefighters who mourned with us, are family never gone
Pray for the safety of each one, as they give you all they've got
By “Always Remembering” this, and “Thanking” them a lot

Bonnie McKay
Mother of Jason McKay-Engine 57

Thanks, Bonnie. Ab.

10/20 San Diego Memorial event for Matt Will

Service & Celebration of Life Tuesday October 23, 2007
A Private Invitation Only Service @ 1300hrs

Immediately following the service a celebration of life @
Pine Valley County Park
28810 Old Hwy 80
@ 1400 hrs till ?

The celebration of life is open to all Fire Service personnel & anyone else who would like join the Will family in the celebration of Matt’s life. The family requests “casual” attire or a well kept work uniform for those attending on duty.

Matt Streck
Fire Captain- PIO, CalFire

10/20 I cannot speak for the WO, RO or even the Forest, but I can tell you that many of the folks closest to the tragedy have expressed a desire to keep October 26th low key and personal. Some may feel left out without some 'official' FS event, but many feel it is best for family and close friends to have this day be for quiet reflection and remembrance rather than participate in a large media show.

Several events are planned by various entities and will likely have a FS presence, but with current weather and fuel conditions, the local suppression units will be honoring Lotz, Gus, Jason, Pablo and Danny by staffing their modules and staying prepared to fight fire.


10/20 OK, this is a positive post.

I was wondering last week about what was being planned for the 1 year anniversary of Esperanza. Thanks FC 180 for the briefing on State and County activities. I'm sure the great people of the BDF have been planning something as well. Many of us on other Forests, Parks and BLM Districts haven't heard anything official about any federal approved and sponsored activities from R-5 or the WO. E-57 belongs to all of us now, as we are reminded of the tragedy and we see the faces every day when we come to work. We see it hanging on our walls, on our vehicles and in this forum. It would be positive to see something official from R-5 FAM, R-5 Line and even the WO on official activities, direction on flags, etc. Please just don't let the day go by RO/WO without something, even if it's just a letter from our Regional Director for R-5 FAM saying....... something.

Whatever is planned, please don't send it out at the end of the day on the 25th only to have most of the field see it, oh around on the 27th or 28th. The proudest I've ever been with the Forest Service was the outstanding work of the IMTs last year during Esperanza. The stories I heard were amazing. I remember getting a phone call late one night last year from an IMT member who was having trouble sleeping called, telling me he was just in awe of the good that was going on. Has an IMT or group of employees been mobilized yet to work on the one year anniversary?

Please do something positive RO/WO. Please lead. Don't get me wrong, all will do something that day without you. However, it would be so refreshing and unique to have you on board. From GS-2's to GS-15's all on the same page, doing something positive TOGETHER for just one day.

If something has come out and I missed it, then it's highly likely many others have as well.


Thank you. Well said. Ab.

10/20 Some pictures of Matt Will's memorial

These Pictures were on the local news station KION 46

This is a shot of Monterey, we were surrounded by CalFire blue dress uniforms. We really appreciate CalFire letting us sit with them in their seating area.



The statue was provided by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation on behalf of all of us. Ab.

10/20 BLMboy,

I appreciate your willingness to share your perspective. All I have to say is that this
comment of yours is the most telling in the limitations to perspective that it illuminates...
Systemic problems in agencies exist outside the fire program but make fire unsafe.
I will not say more.

"And I mostly ignore anybody outside of the fire program because it doesn’t affect
me in relation to my job… at least not that much and I only have so much time,
energy, and effort in an eight hour day."


10/20 Ken and Wendy Perry,

You guys ROCK!!! Good luck Ken on your upcoming run... wish I could be there
to help you but don't think the bicicleta would do too well in the sand! I will be gone
out of touch fishing, starting tomorrow am till after you are back in the states...

Soo... Good Luck Brother, You are the REAL DEAL!!!!!!!

"Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else,
through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or
any goal." -- Vincent Lombardi

Pledge/Donate Ab.

10/20 From Chief Hawkins:


It has been nearly one year since the tragic Esperanza Fire of October 26, 2006 killed five firefighters, destroyed 38 residences and burned over 40,000 acres. In memory of that terrible event, we will do the following:

* Tuesday, October 23, 2007 – The Board of Supervisors will recognize the one-year anniversary of the Esperanza Fire. There will be a Proclamation for a day of Esperanza Remembrance and they may authorize Flags to half-staff at all County Fire Stations on October 26, 2007.

* The Silent Valley Club is holding a small memorial and B-B-Q lunch in memory of BDF Eng 57 on Thursday, October 25, 2007. They have invited all fire service and law enforcement personnel who were at the Esperanza Fire to attend the event. Residents of Poppet Flats and Twin Pines are invited as well. All of those who attend (fire & law) will be provided a bar-b-que lunch free of charge.

Location: Silent Valley Club
46305 Poppet Flats Road
Banning, Ca 92220
Phone: 951-849-4501
Date: Thursday, October 25, 2007
Time: 1100 - 1300 hours

* CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department will be holding an Esperanza Remembrance honoring the victims, survivors, communities, and emergency responders who have been affected by this tragic fire.

Date: Friday, October 26, 2007
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Noble Creek Community Park
38900 Oak Valley Parkway
Beaumont, CA 92223

Department employees may wear the work uniform or civilian attire. Spouses and loved ones are encouraged to attend. Please remember that the Esperanza Fire affected them too! Childcare and quiet activities will be available during the remembrance ceremony for children ages 2 – 10. If you want additional information on the childcare please contact Public Affairs at 951-940-6985. Refreshments will be provided at a reception immediately following the remembrance.

10/20 BLMboy,

Wow..no, we don’t “gotta love it.. and each other…

I haven’t noticed your posts on They Said until recently. You seem to have self- appointed yourself as the final authority on fire and truth. Unfortunately, your “facts” don’t pan out.

My “rant”, as you put it, was accurate enough. You seem to be ill-informed for someone who has worked for the BLM for a whole year and a half. Your own agency is a prime example of the management style of this administration. Lynn Scarlett, your deputy secretary of the DOI, is the former president of a “think tank” devoted to privatization of government and weakening environmental regulations. She wasn’t hired for her land management expertise.

I suggest you do a Google search using the names Gale Norton, Stephen Griles, Italia Federici, Jack Abramoff, Grover Norquist, and see what you find. This is reality… you know, the stuff that is devoid of opinion, as you put it.

You said: “We cannot and should not try attempt to blame someone at Washington’s level for the success or failure of safety.” Despite the sentence structure, I think I read your meaning, and I couldn’t disagree with you more. Without good leadership, without continuous program support and adequate funding, safety becomes compromised at every level. I recommend you read James Reason’s “Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents” before you pontificate again on this subject.

Real leadership has a responsibility to support the troops; this administration has made a mockery of governing by appointing former lobbyists and avowed antagonists to run the very agencies they formerly opposed.

You can save the mushy platitudes about getting along. You have to give respect to receive respect. I don’t know what your experience level is, but some of the people you presume to lecture and belittle on this site are very well respected in the fire community and have 20-30 years or more of fire experience.

And please don’t call me “brother.” You haven’t earned that right.

Misery Whip

Ab will copy, paste, and email any further communications between BLMboy and Misery Whip behind the scenes if they deviate from "just the facts". This board is "about the what, not the who."

10/19 Ab,

This is for Michelle and all your readers.

Read the Hand Book that is the correct one for any vehicle sold in the US. In the Cruise Control section it specifically advises against cruise control use in any wet or slippery road condition. This has been a topic in those books since at least 1990. There is another caution in the Traction Lock section (if your vehicle has that option) to make sure it is engaged in those conditions but to use caution when your vehicle starts into a spin.


Yes, I forgot to mention that the cruise control post was only for those who don't read handbooks. Haw Haw Ab.

10/19 On Snopes there is no mention of cruise control not working in Toyotas
while the windshield wipers are on.

There is a discussion about using cruise control in wet weather, which is
probably real good advice. But no mention of the Toyota link.

Blue Zebra

Thanks for checking Blue Zebra. I don't think that was Michelle's investigation on Snopes, but part of the email she received that she was sharing. It could have referred only to the cruise control part of the email. (I cut some of what she sent. It was too long. Probably my bad.) Since NIOSH sent the rest, hopefully they did the research on Toyota.

All I know is that someone that is a friend of our family was very badly hurt using cruise control in the rain. Before this accident, I had never heard of the cruise control issue and I head out for long miles in the rain often in winter. I almost always used cruise control. No more. I now have a slide in my slide tray. Ab.

10/19 From the sister of Jason McKay, E-57. One way to remember and honor those of E-57 on the anniversary of their deaths.

My request to all........

I can't change the world but am trying to change my small part of it.
I have changed my page on {myspace} to say "In honor of my brother, update your emergency contact info."
I ask all of you to pass this on and get the message out.
You see, it took many long hours for the forest department to find my mother b/c Jason's contact info wasn't current.
It wouldn't have changed the fact of his death, but it has stirred in me this idea some may never think about.

Make sure your address, your phone number, the phone and address numbers of loved ones are current in addition to the hospital, work, school or Doctors info.
All the info in your wallet should be current.
Having these current will ensure family and friends will know in a quick manner in case of an emergency.
Please Act: review your info and children's info; change it every time, on time!!!
I've been making my rounds on {Myspace} to get to as many of you wonderful people as I can.
I LOVE you all like my Brothers and Sisters; I have the utmost love and respect for you all.

God Bless You All and may the Lord keep you all from Harm

With all the love in my heart to each of you ,

Brenda {Jason McKay's Sister}

10/19 Misery Whip,

Wow…we gotta love it…and each other

First, I agree with you on the whole LPF thing. I can’t imagine that a leader would make such a decision about a firefighter funeral. But, I have made my opinion clear on how I feel about a lot of the so-called leadership we have today.

Next, I am not exactly in love with President Bush myself. And I have even had a personal conversation with the man…and certainly I don’t line up with some of his political and policy views.

Next, next, when you diverted into your anti-Republican, anti-conservative rant you kinda narrowed the people who would take you seriously. Sure you will have those that agree with you… then there are others who have the exact opposite political views that might rant against you with just as much “proof”. And then there is reality… you know, the stuff that is devoid of opinion… the stuff that is really happening in the Ag and Interior departments and DC as well as your own office.

>From my perspective I am not seeing the dismantling of anything but I don’t work for USFS. And I mostly ignore anybody outside of the fire program because it doesn’t affect me in relation to my job… at least not that much and I only have so much time, energy, and effort in an eight hour day.

But I can tell you that in the last 1-1/2 years or so working for BLM: our budget from the state FMO increased, we funded a new fire position, got authorization to move a GS-9 to a GS-11, got authorization to move a GS-4 to a GS-5, got 2 new rigs, received approval for a large Ready Reserve program for the RFDs in our district, received extra funding for training gear, received a lot of extra funding for some specialized equipment, added a new staff position, and had no problems getting severity funding approved. And our fuels program got a ton of money dumped into it that was not expected.

I even sat in Emmitsburg earlier this year and helped approve FDs from around the country to receive hundreds of millions of dollars of grant money.

Where we did have problems was a district manager that wanted to take more than their share of our fire program dollars; we fought it and won. We had a terrible time from the national office actually addressing the vehicle accident problems from 2006; addressed and solved it at the state level. And had problems from Denver getting a rig added to our fleet; we fought that and won.

Now, firefighter safety… yes, if national leaders, whether Congressional or Presidential, or even at the departmental level would make wise decisions on improving the safety of our firefighters… well, that would certainly help. BUT…you knew that “but” was coming… firefighter safety succeeds or fails at a very personal level; whether it is a structure firefighter or a wildland firefighter. We cannot and should not try attempt to blame someone at Washington’s level for the success or failure of safety. I have never seen a Safety Officer from Washington at an incident looking out for us. But I know my job is to look out for the safety of the resources that work with me. I will not take the role as a victim in any area of my life. I make the choices of what I do, with whom I do it, and how its done... or I don't do it.

I understand your frustration. We would all like newer, different or better equipment. We would all like bigger raises and more overtime. We would all like reduced healthcare costs and better disability benefits. All that goes without reason to any sane person. But “ideology” by politicians is not the villain here. People are people, and different people have different priorities and agendas. I for one would like to take half of all the wildlife, recreation and environmental programs' money and plow it into the fire program. But then the those people would call me a lunatic. They would love to strip most of the money from fire programs for their use and we would call them radicals with flawed ideas. Then there are those that want to take money from both those programs and fight wars with it. And I think we can both agree that is not in our best interests.

So consider disagreeing with what a person’s ideology is or what their priorities are. And then work to balance that with what you feel is important… keeping an open mind that everyone has a right to be heard and all have a right to have input and receive results.

But when the discussion degrades to name calling and ranting against individuals… making absurd claims that don’t represent reality… well, you get what we have now… polarization. Then both sides dig in and everyone loses. Questioning is fine... but use facts and present solutions or you lose credibility.

Finally… Let’s not fracture the fire community with politics. Let’s figure out how to make our jobs better and how to improve how we serve. I am a firm believer in the concept that all people are basically good, trying to do what they think is right. I may not agree with them but I don’t know what is in their head or heart or why they are doing the things they do. But that is their right, just as I have the same right.

There are many that would call some on this website lunatics, radicals, and worse. But why? And what does it accomplish?

Seek the common ground for the common good. Selfishness never accomplished anything good…and has ruined many a good people.

Be Safe Brother!


TO vfd cap'n, you misread my post. I think it is very admirable that you support paid firefighters. But, if you can be a volunteer then you have to give that right to everyone... including your paid brothers. Not supporting that concept would bring into question your actions and hypocrisy.
10/19 To the person asking about sand table planes, helis, Engines, Crew Buggies, etc. try the Fire and Cop Shop in Moreno Valley, ca. they have a good website and they have all kinds of sandtable toys....
http://www.fireandcopshop.com click on sand table apparatus....


10/19 BLM Redbook Burn Policy (1380 K tif file), I typed in the text below. As far as I can tell, this is identical to what was posted during the summer regarding the interim burn policy. Ab.

United States Department of the Interior
Fire and Aviation

Wildland Firefighter Burn Injury Protocols:

XXX Required Treatment for Burn Injuries
The following procedures will be used when the Bureau of Land Management
(BLM) employees sustain burn injuries regardless of agency jurisdiction. These
procedures will also apply to federal employees, casuals, and other personnel
covered by the Federal Employees Compensation Act who are burned during a
wildland fire operation with BLM jurisdiction.

After on-site medical response, initial medical stabilization, and evaluation are
completed, District Field Managers will coordinate with the attending physician
to ensure that an employee whose injuries meet any of the following burn injury
criteria (identified by the American Burn Association as warranting immediate
referral to an accredited burn center) is immediately referred to the nearest
regional burn center. A list of possible burn care facilities can be found at

The decision to refer the employee to a regional burn center will be made
directly by the attending physician or may be requested of the physician by the
Agency Administrator.

Burn Injury Criteria

  • Partial thickness burns (second degree) involving greater than 5% total Body Surface Area (TBSA),
  • Burns involving the face hands, feet, genitalia, perineum, or major joints,
  • Third degree burns of any size are present,
  • Electrical burns, including lightning injury, are present,
  • Inhalation injury is suspected,
  • Burns accompanied by traumatic injury (such as fractures),
  • Individuals are unable to immediately return to full duty.

It is imperative that action is expeditious, as burn injuries are often difficult to evaluate and may take 72 hours to manifest themselves. When there is any doubt as to the severity of the injury, the required action is to immediately refer and transport the employee to a regional burn center.

10/19 This came in from Michelle, Safety Officer on the Tahoe National Forest.

This Ab considers it important info. A 28 year old friend of our family who is a safe driver broke 2 legs and an arm in an auto accident 9 or10 days ago. It totaled her car. We had our first rainstorm in norcal. She was driving on Hwy 101 (Humboldt Co), hit a large shallow puddle and cruise control acted exactly as described in the NIOSH piece below:

Michelle sent:

This was looked up on SNOPES.com and it is TRUE, not a hoax.

A CDC NIOSH Safety Announcement:

Some vehicles (like the Toyota Sienna Limited XLE) will not allow you to set the cruise control when the windshield wipers are on--GOOD IDEA!

Subject: Cruise Control Warning

I wonder how many people know about this?

A 36 year old female had an accident several weeks ago and totaled her car. A resident of Kilgore, Texas, she was traveling between Gladewater & Kilgore. It was raining, though not excessively, when her car suddenly began to hydro-plane and literally flew through the air. She was not seriously injured but very stunned at the sudden occurrence!

When she explained to the highway patrolman what had happened he told her something that every driver should know - NEVER DRIVE IN THE RAIN WITH YOUR CRUISE CONTROL ON . She thought she was being cautious by setting the cruise control and maintaining a safe consistent speed in the rain.

But the highway patrolman told her that if the cruise control is on when your car begins to hydro-plane and your tires lose contact with the pavement, your car will accelerate to a higher rate of speed making you take off like an airplane. She told the patrolman that was exactly what had occurred.

The patrolman said this warning should be listed, on the driver's seat sun-visor - NEVER USE THE CRUISE CONTROL WHEN THE PAVEMENT IS WET OR ICY, along with the airbag warning. We tell our teenagers to set the cruise control and drive a safe speed - but we don't tell them to use the cruise control only when the pavement is dry.

The only person the accident victim found, who knew this (besides the patrolman), was a man who had a similar accident, totaled his car and sustained severe injuries.

another heads up:

NIOSH has recently released the following Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Report:

F2006-24 Jun 25, 2006 Volunteer deputy fire chief dies after falling through floor hole in residential structure during fire attack - Indiana www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200624.phpl

Be Safe!


10/19 I attended the services yesterday for Matt it was outstanding. I have
scanned in the photo keepsake that was given out at the services. I
thought you may want a copy and be able to offer it to anyone who
was not able to attend.

Matt keepsake front
Matt keepsake back

Thanks for all you do,

Carol DeSilva

Thanks for all this community does. Ab

10/19 BLMboy,

It doesn't makes me a hypocrite to be a proud volunteer firefighter who supports my career brothers and sisters in their pursuit of collective bargaining rights.

It is possible for a person to believe in divergent opinions at the same time. Just ask Toby Keith.

I've even been known to talk about firefighters being individually responsible for their own safety, while pushing to hold supervisors accountable for their culpable actions and inaction.

vfd cap'n
10/19 Guess today is Mark Rey's 3rd chance to "comply" or face
"Contempt of Court". Wish I had 3 chances on some things.

I think he's still hoping someone will hand him an EASY button.



10/19 Ab & All,

It is disheartening to hear about the LPF crew's denial to attend Matt Will's memorial in uniform. Jimmy, Tony & the crew should be commended for their leadership in standing up for what was right. Their method could even be considered Doctrinal, since they found a way to make it work despite the system.

Hugh Carson,

Your 10/18 post is right on the money. You can't avoid politics if you're going to talk about firefighter safety. This administration has been working to systematically dismantle critical government functions from day one. The federal land management agencies are presently at the mercy of a gang of bullying punks who never had any intention to provide good governance, and the fire programs are just along for the ride. Americans should be angry that the safety of firefighters and private citizens is being compromised on the basis of a radical and inherently flawed ideology.

Misery Whip
10/19 Fish,

You make a good point…one I wish more communities would contemplate when considering fire protection. Your question is really valid and should be one of the first things brought up when a community says they cannot afford to pay firefighters. I wish there were more rational people like you asking the great questions when politicians try to rule the day.

Couple thoughts…

Many small communities get their law enforcement coverage from the county sheriff and pay a set amount per year for that service. Usually pretty low; I think someone told me once that is was less than a single deputy’s annual salary for their village. They could pay that small amount because the deputy was also covering other areas of the county around the small community.

Also, I think that small communities would only have 1 officer on duty at times with others on-call. Sometimes, during high-crime rate hours (oxymoron for most small communities) they might have 2 or more on-duty or use over-lapping shifts.

Lastly, I think a lot of small communities utilize non-paid reserve officers to keep costs low.

So how does that affect fire protection?
  1. Fire stations must be large because of the size of the equipment, sleeping/eating accommodations and associated OSHA, NFPA, EPA, etc.. So the cost to build and maintain a fire station could easily exceed that of a community’s law enforcement building.
  2. NFPA recommends minimum 4 people on a crew. So you have to employ at least 16 – 18 firefighters to cover the shifts and provide minimal supervision and that would not include EMS transport capability. Lots of small communities can get by with a law enforcement staff of 3 – 9 and still provide coverage. So once again fire protection would be considerably more expensive.
  3. Fire trucks are 3 – 10 times more expensive than law enforcement patrol vehicles. Even Chief’s vehicles tend to be expensive due to command requirements. If there are no, or insufficient, hydrants in the community then you have to have water tender(s) available. Tenders are also 3 – 5 times more expensive than a law enforcement vehicle.

So funding a fire department can far exceed the cost for law enforcement. Further, I know many small communities that have gone a year or more without a structure fire, no MVAs requiring extrication and almost no brush fires. True, there may be medical calls but most of the time that is, or can be, covered by a private contractor or county based ambulance system… and sometimes through the VFD. While the same communities may have little crime, just their patrolling presence can be reassuring to a community. Seeing fire trucks parked on the ramp and rarely moving is kinda tough to take for a lot of public citizens.

Now, in my perfect world all fire departments would be combination departments. Now there is a win-win if I ever saw one! All communities need full-time, highly skilled, ready-to-roll fire protection… and it would be wonderful to have firefighters that are paid. And even more firefighters serving their communities as volunteers doing what they love backing up the paid ff’s with the sheer numbers that are required at times. How sweet would that be!!

Unfortunately, all too often, communities have to make hard choices. I know where I was the Chief of the VFD we had a 3 person crew during the day that was paid staff (plus a paramedic from the county fire department). But at night and on weekends we had vols there manning the station. We ran 4 – 12 calls per day, never missed one, and often moved our second engine out to other stations (paid county stations) to cover them while they were gone on long-term incidents. When brush fire season hit, the county was always asking us to move our brush truck(s) and water tender to where the action was. Again, we never missed a request. Plus, we kept our station at full staff for our own calls.

Depends on the community, call volume, funding capability, political and cultural environments, and of course, leadership. Nice to know there is room for all firefighters when cool, calm, and rational people prevail. Thanks for your insight.

Be safe brother!



Just a thought for Oct. 26. Similar to the National Standdown a little. No calling in sick or anything. How about for those that have to work that day to honor and respect the E-57 5, a day of reflection at the station. No finger pointing, what if's, politics, agency bashing etc. Just a day with fellow firefighters to remember the five.... My crew is working that day, and that's what we plan on doing...

Former Green Soldier.
10/19 in reference to Stumpie's post:

I know that Erickson Air Crane has some models available.
You can find their contact information on their website.


10/19 Ab

You are right. A sick in/out would not be appropriate but to do nothing
in light of what has happened and is happening to our troops and the
possible outcome of our future in fire as Forestry Technicians what
would You do?

Make something happen, not just talk.


Most of those I work with are busy doing that in our own arenas year round. I encourage everyone to pursue the goal of making something happen. BFD, I didn't mean to shut you down.
Readers, what would be an appropriate "protest" to honor E-57? I know we're all tired at the end of the season, at least I am. Anyone got any ideas for action? Ab.

10/19 Hi Ab,

I wanted to let folks in the California area know that Ken will be boarding a
British Airways plane on Wednesday, October 24 (less than a week!) for
his fundraising run in Egypt.

His flight leaves at 9:20 p.m. from the Los Angeles Airport. If you live in that
area, would you help send him off?

If anyone has questions, please call me at (208) 866-3063.


Melissa Schwagerl

Also: Donate. Pledge. Donate Pledge... Run Ken Run! Good for the Dalton shots! Ab.

10/19 I haven't had time to read all of the posts here line for line, so someone may have
already brought this up.

A couple of folks posted that volunteers are the only choice for many small town
due to budgetary reasons. So here's the question; do they have volunteer law
enforcement? Would they accept that?

I'm the first to support volunteers, having been one for many years. I'm pretty
steamed with the IAFF over this and have let my union leadership know it.

Fish (the original)
10/19 From girl4ster:

Wildfire smoke a culprit in mercury's toxic spread
By Steve Lipsher
The Denver Post

Forest fires stir up as much mercury as power plants, scattering the toxic metal after it was originally deposited by industrial smokestacks, according to a study released Wednesday.

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder found that small concentrations of mercury that had landed in soil and been absorbed by vegetation were redistributed by wildfire smoke plumes.

This may be an important pathway for the metal to end up in waterways, the researchers said.

"This is our first step to understand whether these emissions are big or small. Our first estimates are they are pretty big," said Christine Wiedinmyer, an NCAR scientist who authored the study with colleague Hans Friedli.

The researchers studied levels of mercury in the wildfire smoke in different types of vegetation and measured the amount of mercury left behind in soil after a fire.

They determined that about 48 tons of the metal are redistributed by fires each year in the United States.

About 108 tons of mercury, a common byproduct of coal combustion from power plants, is released annually across the country from industrial sources.

The study found that fires contribute about 30 percent of the total U.S. emissions, Friedli said.

The study, published online in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, found that fires over the past five years have emitted particularly large quantities of the metal.

The next step in the research, Friedli said, is to determine how far the mercury is transported and to establish the risk of increased contamination to downwind ecosystems and communities.

Article includes photo of the New Castle wildfire in CO taken on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 Ab.
Fair Use Disclaimer

10/19 Howdy, Ab.

I'm trying to find sources for model airtankers and firefighting helicopters,
as an aid in show&tell classes , possibly also for sandtable exercises.

Anyone got any ideas on sources?



10/19 From Lobotomy:

With toys in hand, fire crews pay visit to Shriners Hospital for Children
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal Staff Writer
Thursday, October 18, 2007

Some area firefighters made the day a little brighter for pediatric patients at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento.

The crew of Foresthill-based Tahoe National Forest Engine 41, along with Smokey the Bear and representatives from Tahoe National Forest Engine 41 and the American River Hotshots hand crew, headed down to Sacramento Oct. 8 with a truck packed with toys and gifts intended for children being treated at the hospital. This marks the third year the firefighters have raised money for Shriners.

"It's the highlight of our year, going down for the visit," said firefighter Dave Mecchi.

Funding for the gifts comes from the station's recycling fund, along with the personal contributions from American River Ranger District staff, Tahoe Engine 42 and the American River Hotshots, which organized an inter-agency benefit volleyball tournament involving teams from the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire Fire Station 11.

"This comes from personal contributions," Mecchi said, noting that firefighters don't do any external soliciting.

To read the rest, click the link. Nice photo of Tahoe National Forest firefighter Eric Rusch talking with kids. Ab.

10/19 Blameful Duty, Dis Repect, No Integrity

Sisters and Brothers

Can't believe what I have been reading but it does not surprise me. How much lower can the Management in the R5 Regional Office go? I thought the OSHA report on Esperanza was pretty low but it seems they will do anything to divide our ranks and make us weak. (communist philosophy) Funny what the government learned from Viet Nam.

So back to my sixties roots I propose a protest.

In one week we will HONOR the first anniversary of Engine 57.
So call in sick on October 26th and make it a National Wildland Firefighters Memorial Day.


We can't advocate a sick out or sick in or anything sick. Fire doesn't take a sick day. Might be my own sense of duty speaking, but I doubt if those from E-57 who died would want to be memorialized that way. Abercrombie.

10/19 Howdy all -

A couple of wildfire-related articles... About TOPOFF 4 (Top Officials exercise) from the Tucson Citizen at:

"Gov. Janet Napolitano declined to give her impressions of the state's performance on the first day of the three-day test, but said Arizona authorities have gained experience in other emergency response tests and in responding to the needs of wildfire seasons.

'Overall, I think we have a skilled base here,' Napolitano said."

Very nice to hear the leadership of AZ understands the level of preparedness and the experience that comes from the wildfire community and the frequent wildfires the state experiences.

Also, KOLD-News13 in Tucson has this article on UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)- some safety considerations as wildfire is looking at this technology:

Be safe!


10/19 Casey Allen,

Do you really think there wasn’t enough room for a few more utility trucks, a few engines and two crew carriers? We weren’t asking for a special spot in the ceremony or anything, all we wanted to do was attend and celebrate Matt’s life. We could have parked on the darn highway for all we cared. We were invited by CAL FIRE, and if this “EMAIL” truly was the case, don’t you think some great leader from the Forest Service could have contacted CAL FIRE and tried to make some special arrangements. Get real! There was plenty of room for your engine folks and our crew as well. We went to memorial on our own time because we wanted to concentrate our thoughts and prayers towards Matt. If you want to look at this as taking cheap shots and pointing fingers go ahead. We see it as hurtful reality. Maybe you should look a little deeper.

Jimmy Hart

The info CalFire sent out was posted here on theysaid, on the California state website and northops news and notes. Look at the hotlist thread. It's there. Says only that there will be no procession of equipment and that parking will be limited. Ab.

10/19 Gordon,

Thanks for the good information on the Pension Protection Act changes. You
are obviously very knowledgeable and your postings are appreciated.


I appreciate your postings as well even though I almost never agree with your
political rants. It is a great thing that we have the freedom in this country to
cancel each other out when we vote.

10/18 Ab,

Sorry it's taken me until now to reply to all of your posts here; the crew decided to have a dinner together and have some quality time with each other.

Today was a day to remember Matt Will and that is what my crew has done! It was a very wonderful service, it brought tears to everyone’s eyes. I want to thank all the people that came up to the crew and shook our hands and told us how much they appreciated us coming, it seemed like everyone had already known about our situation and were very proud of our decision to come, we all believe our decision was the right thing to do.

When I started this thread yesterday I wasn’t really looking for bashing of my agency, I was trying to open everyone's eyes to see what we have to deal with. I am looking for answers. I’m trying to make it so no one anywhere should ever have to deal with such an issue to go to a memorial to one of our brothers who tragically lost his life doing what he loves.

So for fellow brothers and sisters that have been reading this, I want you to pass this along to your friends, family and co-workers. Have them read this, and write to the R-5 Regional Office and their local congress man/woman. I believe by doing this we, as firefighters, should never have to go through this again.

About the pay issue- it really doesn’t matter about our pay issue, what we were told is that we could not go to the memorial of Matt Will.

So as a crew we decided to take personal annual leave (and we have two AD pay guys on the crew and they don’t get annual leave) because we didn’t have any other option, WE WERE GOING NO MATTER WHAT to honor the passing of Matt Will, our brother, our Firefighting family.

Casey Allen- Just to clear things up with you, we were invited by CALFIRE to be at the Memorial at the beginning of the week, so it was known to them that we were coming, we had phone calls all week arranging it.

The call for us not to go was not made by CALFIRE. It was by our own R-5 Regional office, and then came down through the chain of command to us.

Casey Allen, also I just want to point out the people's “bashing” isn’t towards the workforce, it’s towards our leadership or lack of.

Just on a side note that I thought of right before sending this:
I was thinking that just the other day I was reading a paper from the Regional Office, and there was a page with the headline…….. “Duty, Respect, and Integrity” ……….. hmmm….. ????

LPF C-1 T.Velasquez

Matt Will you're always going to be remembered!!!!
10/18 Monterey C-1 Hotshots,

Thank you for all the hard work you do on the
wildland fire lines and the special work done for the helispot. Some
decisions made by management I will never understand and this one made
it to the top of the list. If there were factors involved like a fire
or a high fire danger in the area where your crew is stationed, maybe I
would understand. But with rain over the last weekend, no fires at this
time and within a short drive from where you are stationed, I just do
not understand why a crew that was working on the fire and involved in
the rescue, setting up a helispot, would not be allowed to attend the

I hope this makes it up the chain of command so it never happens again.

I am proud to work for a department that paid overtime to a firefighter
to allow me to attend the memorial service.

DoD Federal Fire Captain

10/18 To all:

On a lighter note than many of the recent posts (including my own), on behalf of the Board of Directors of the FWFSA, I would like to thank ALL of our members for the opportunity to announce the addition of our 100th new member so far this year.

To many, I suppose that figure is small & insignificant when compared to huge organizations, unions etc. In fact recently I endured some cynical commentary from someone who frequents this site who surmised that our Association's size was somewhat of a joke.

Well, in this business, size doesn't matter. Work ethic, commitment, integrity, credibility and passion do which is why we appear far larger on Capitol Hill than we actually are.

Sure we all wish we could sign up every federal wildland firefighter in the country. We wish all the "fence sitters" would make a commitment to lending their voice to our efforts for their benefit, not ours. That being said, I cherish the unique nature of our Association. We don't have to deal with "us versus them" when it comes to labor & management because our members make up every conceivable position & grade in fire and are a collective voice for the betterment of all.

We have the flexibility to communicate with whomever we need to communicate throughout the federal government without being encumbered by a larger, more dominant organization as in the past.

The information we gather from our members, whether they be a GS-3 Forestry Aid or a family member or a Fire Chief or a dispatcher gives us the tools necessary to build our credibility and integrity among those in Washington in a position to effect positive change without the necessity of having to try and raise huge PAC dollars to buy such support.

Each member is very special and, while I wish I had the opportunity to meet all of them and know them by face, I do know their names and they know they can contact the FWFSA night or day on any issue. It will remain that way regardless of how big the Association becomes, because we are driven by passion and affection for all that our federal wildland firefighters do, not by the need to make lots of money or organize the world.

Change will come. It is an incredibly difficult process to navigate congress. Take for example the recent IAFF legislation discussed here. It took an organization of some 275,000 members and millions of dollars TEN YEARS to get its # 1 legislative priority passed by the House with an uncertain Senate future and a likely Bush veto if passed by the Senate in the 110th Congress.

Thus the faith, trust and confidence our members place in our commitment to them to deliver what they have deserved for far too long drives our motivation each day.

Again, thanks to each and every member of the wildland firefighting community who supports us as a member and who gives us the honor of working with & for them on the issues they face.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
10/18 Ab: I was surprised at the post you allowed from Hugh
Carson. But I don't want to see the postings end up
in a smoking hot battle. Just please...please don't
let him get away with something so outrageous!

Jackson: You got it right brother! The ‘ologists’
will ruin us yet…just give them more time…they have a
great start. Yeah, there are a few good ones out
there…they just won’t stand up and tell the others
that they are insane in matters of fire.

Now…Mr. Hugh Carson…thank you…thank you sooooooo much!
As I read your post I was stunned then entertained.
Relax…you won’t have to respond to anything on my
behalf. There is no reason to respond to a single
thing you wrote. You proved yourself to be
polarizing, partisan, and biased to the point of
absurdity. And your call to shun being "political"
falls on deaf ears because you were shouting just the

Have a great weekend everybody…and be safe…there are
still some fires going on!


I'd be happy to forward any replies to Hugh... Ab.

10/18 CA-BDF-Heaps Peak Crew Carrier Accident 72 hour report:

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2007/h534crew-carrier72hr.doc (450 doc file) has 2 photos.

Text below. Ab.

Date: October 4, 2007
Subject: 72 Hour Briefing, San Bernardino Forest Heaps Peak Crew Carrier Accident October 1, 2007
To: Vicki Jackson, Acting Regional Forester


Number Injured: 1 moderate

Preliminary Factual Findings:
On October 1, 2007, a Crew Carrier with eight Forest employees from the Heaps Peak Helitack, were involved in a single vehicle rollover. They crew was in route to a mop-up assignment on the Butler II fire near Big Bear Lake, on the MountainTop District of the San Bernardino Forest.

On October 1, 2007, at 0915, the Heaps Peak Helitack departed Heaps Peak in a 10 passenger crew carrier with the driver and seven passengers for an assignment on the Butler II Fire. While driving along State Highway 18, in an area known as the “Artic Circle”, the driver stuck the guard rail and lost control of the crew carrier. The driver, attempted to regain control, but over corrected, struck another guard rail and went airborne off the side of the hill about 90 feet before hitting the hillside. The vehicle landed on its driver side first, crushing the driver cab, where upon the crew compartment separated from the cab and chassis. The two units then rolled several times down a 100 percent slope coming to rest 235 feet below the highway, being stopped only by heavy timber. All employees were wearing seatbelts and seven escaped with little or no injuries; one sustained moderate injuries to his shoulder. Two employees were kept in the hospital overnight for observation. The Del Rosa and Big Bear Hot Shots and Forest engine crews along with rescue units from Big Bear Lake Fire, and San Bernardino County Fire, performed a low angle rescue. The crew compartment, although sustaining damage, was structurally sound and protected the crew from more serious injuries.

A Regional Investigation Team is conducting a Safety Investigation. The California Highway Patrol is also conducting an accident investigation.

/S/ Kathy Hardy
Team Leader

Cc: Jim Pena, Deputy Regional Forester, Gene Smalley, Regional Safety Manager, Peter Tolosano, Regional Fire safety Officer, Jeanne Wade, San Bernardino Forest Supervisor.

10/18 I think it is absurd, unprofessional, and extremely disrespectful that the Acting Regional Forester did not allow the LPF-C1 crew to officially attend the funeral of a firefighter that died 100 yards away from them on the Colorado Fire. I hope the agency does not allow this terrible decision to set a precedent.

If there were a Federal Wildland Fire Service, administered by professional firefighters instead of 'ologists or foresters, I am sure there would have been a very different outcome. I used to work for the USFS in R5, but now I'm almost ashamed to admit it. I apologize to CALFIRE for this stupid, disrespectful decision.

10/18 Here we go again…

To my brother…Vfd cap’n…

Let’s talk here just a minute…you injected your
feelings and made some claims…but by doing so you
leave more questions lying around than you answered.

1 – The “organizer”…what exactly was he terminated
for? Remember, he could have retained an attorney and
sued if he was not guilty of the reason they used to
terminate him. You don’t have to depend on a union
local to protect your job status.

2 – Was the “brother” actually unfit for duty?
Remember, he could have retained an attorney and sued
if he was actually fit for duty. You don’t have to
depend on a union local to protect your job status.
While I am not condoning the city’s action, we need
more information and the actual outcome.

3 – “force” collective bargaining? Wow, whatever
happened to just negotiating, discussion, voting,
etc.? When I hear people use the term “force” I get
weirded out.

4 – So you are saying that volunteers should not be
employed...anywhere...by anyone? Because it doesn’t
matter where their income comes from in all reality.
The vols, who are paid ff’s in another department, do
the vol thing for their community due to dedication
and because they enjoy it. So, you see…the community
IS supporting their VFD. Why else would the paid guys

5 – “…go career.” My friend…do the math.
Many…actually most by a large margin…communities
cannot afford paid firefighters. A lot of communities
don’t even warrant a paid department due to call
volume. And some communities actually like and prefer
a volunteer department.

You sound very cavalier with your comments and your
view of communities with VFDs. I assume from your
screen name you are a volunteer firefighter. Be proud
to be one AND be considerate of your paid brother
firefighters who want to support their communities in
which they live by also being volunteer firefighters.
To me that sounds like a win-win.

In other words don’t be a hypocrite…if you want to be
a volunteer don’t support laws that forbid others to
be volunteer firefighters.

Last point…”pay status” has nothing to do with the LP
crew attending the services… nothing whatsoever.

10/18 LPF Situation

ME writes: "It almost feels like they are trying to make the region and the service fail."

The following is not directed at the leadership of the Region in question, nor anyone in particular, nor at the Republican Party simply because they are Republicans, but rather because they are the ones who have been running the show for 7 years. It hopefully addresses what I see as root causes at the highest organizational levels (Presidency, Congress) (Swiss Cheese, Level 4) of some of the chaos, confusion, and dysfunction that is occurring .

A well-documented subject is the push, particularly by the neo-conservatives in this Administration but originally formulated back in the Reagan/Gingrich days, to in fact dismantle every facet of the federal government. The regulatory with the legal, the good with the bad . Examples of such are abundant, and the neo-conservatives make no bones about it (see Norman Podhoretz's writing, former editor of Commentary).

My encouragement is that we wake up to the basic "fact" that, with the exception of the military, this particular Administration is actively dismantling the government. In the interests of not pushing buttons, I'll leave what has been done to our military alone. " Fact" in that it is both deductive through example as well as inductive through numerous books, statements, interviews, etc written by this faction).

Whether the appointments of incompetents like Michael Brown (ex-FEMA) to high-risk agencies is part of this deconstruction process depends on how far your conspiracy theory tendencies go. Mine don't go that far but who knows? The "easier" answer is that this can (and has been) accomplished by slashing budgets. Reagan made no bones about that, either .

Additionally, the appointment of incompetents who don't know any better (Brown) and competent "yes-people who do know better but are unwilling to sacrifice their grade, power, and retirement by refusing to regurgitate talking points by actually telling the truth is an indicator of a major part of this problem. However, put yourself in the position of a GS-14 or 15 who knows how swift the retribution can currently be if the company line is not followed, word for word. I'm not trying to justify that behavior by any means (and it never appealed to me much anyway), but just offer it as something for each of us to think about.

Though they may be complicit, the wrong people seem to be getting the blame laid at their doorstep (Regional Foresters, Fire Directors at both the Region and WO level). The problem goes much higher and seems to pervade entire organizations. Just ask any Forest Supervisor or Regional/WO employee how much latitude he or she has had these last few years. Pretty much zip zero.

Although Ab rightly tries to keep politics and religion out of this board discussion, it's also my sincere belief that "it's all politics" at the higher levels. Right or wrong often goes out the door. And if we choose to ignore politics, then we'll suffer, and are suffering, the consequences. That's why the FWFSA is such a good "deal."

In short, there seems to be a pervasive philosophy of active disengagement of this government from attention to issues that really matter to our citizens (their safety, for one), and the unwillingness by our government to strongly support those who protect the citizenry.

Let's get away from the emotional, hot button issues of politics that have diverted our collective attention so well in the past. Let us get down to brass tacks: what this country needs, and all that it has ever needed in times of crisis, is intelligent, competent leaders. Intelligence and competence. That's all I wish for now and in 2008. (For those who suspect my sympathies lie with the Democrats. my "dream Team" used to be McCain/Powell: competence, intelligence, and genuine caring.

And with competent, intelligent leadership at the top, we will get leadership at all levels that reflect that competence and intelligence.

Feel free to respond off-Board to airops @ paonia.com (take out spaces)

Hugh Carson

As you know we generally stay away from religion and politics on this board. The topics are hot (emotionally charged) and people already seem to have their own mindset coming into the discussion. I'd be happy to pass messages behind the scenes if you don't want to email Hugh directly. Ab.

10/18 Policy for federal leave surrounding an employee's death.

From the U.S. Code Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [Laws in effect as of January 3, 2005]
[Document not affected by Public Laws enacted between January 3, 2005 and April 6, 2006]
[CITE: 5USC6328]



Subpart E--Attendance and Leave



Sec. 6328. Absence in connection with funerals of fellow Federal
law enforcement officers

A Federal law enforcement officer or a Federal firefighter may be
excused from duty without loss of, or reduction in, pay or leave to
which such officer is otherwise entitled, or credit for time or service,
or performance or efficiency rating, to attend the funeral of a fellow
Federal law enforcement officer or Federal firefighter, who was killed
in the line of duty. When so excused from duty, attendance at such
service shall for the purposes of section 1345(a) of title 31, be
considered to be an official duty of the officer or firefighter.

(Added Pub. L. 103-329, title VI, Sec. 642, Sept. 30, 1994, 108 Stat.
2432, Sec. 6327; renumbered Sec. 6328, Pub. L. 106-56, Sec. 1(c)(1),
Sept. 24, 1999, 113 Stat. 407.)


Section 642 of Pub. L. 103-329, which directed that this section be
added ``following the word `Forces' in section 6326'' was executed by
adding the section after section 6327, as added by section 629(a)(1) of
Pub. L. 103-329, to reflect the probable intent of Congress.


1999--Pub. L. 106-56 renumbered section 6327 of this title as this section.

10/18 My Deepest sympathy and solemn prayers go out to Matthew Will, his wife and
two young children. I to was on the "Colorado Incident" working on the same
division as Matthew, LPF-Crew 1 and the other LPF- MRD Resources assigned.
It is a dire tragedy that Matthew lost his life doing the job he loved. I
have a high level of respect for Monterey Crew-1 and can empathize with
their frustration at not being able to formally attend Mr. Will's Memorial
Service. Once again I believe there has been a communication breakdown. I
received an e-mail that was sent to all the Southern California Forests
regarding the Service. This e-mail that was forwarded from Cal-Fire
requests that " based on operational considerations, size and limitations
of the fairgrounds. Out of area resources should be limited to a maximum of
one piece of fire apparatus per unit / department based upon unit Chief /
Chief approval......." I hope this is the reason why all of us who wanted
to pay our respects to Matthew but were unable to attend formally. Because
of limitations at the fairgrounds? And not because the Region is heartless.
I Believe we should concentrate our thoughts and prayers toward Matthew
Will and his family and stop pointing fingers and taking cheap shots at
this agency.

Casey Allen
10/18 LPF situation

Well now is anyone really surprised by the leadership's
decision here in R5? They haven't worried about morale
or its people for years, especially the firefighters.

We need everyone to start writing letters to Congress
and let them know what's going on. It almost feels
like they are trying to make the region and the
service fail. I really can't wait to hear the
bull-s**t excuse they are going to come up with on why
they made such a decision. I'll bet it will be a pay
and liability issue, any bets?


10/18 During my 8 years on the ANF, I remember two memorial services. One
for the two L.A. County handcrew members who were killed in the early
90's and the 30 year anniversary of the Loop tragedy in 96. During both
those difficult times it wasn't about could we, it was WE will be there and
it was a fair amount of the ABC forests resources.

How can the agency talk about core values and empowerment when there
is no leadership to set the example...

Former Green Soldier.

10/18 Info on the 60 minutes piece next Sunday night. Info from Tahoe Terrie.


Global warming will result in more than rising oceans and melting icecaps. According to one of the world's leading fire ecologists, the warming trend is also increasing the intensity and number of forest fires so much that the American West could lose half its forests by the end of the century.

60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley speaks to Tom Swetnam, a fire ecologist at the University of Arizona, for a report on mega-fires to be broadcast this Sunday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

(To read the rest, click the link at the top.)

Ab also found this nice description from the NPS News site:

CBS To Report On Global Warming And Wildland Fire

CBS To Report On Global Warming And Wildland Fire

10/18 To all re the LPF issue:

At this point we have been informed that the decision was made by the Regional Forester. Our first question was whether that was the new RF Randy Moore from R9. No it was not.

We are trying to ascertain whether it was Vicki Jackson, Mr. Pena or someone else. Odd that in other incidents such as the firefighter memorial in Sacramento and Esperanza, FS crews from all over the state enjoyed the support of the Agency in attending such events but with this event, only an hour away or so, someone who was apparently in a position of "Acting RF" has given rise to a new definition for GRINCH.

10/18 Monterey HS, you are the real pros and I’ll be proud to work side
by side with you in the future. As for the management of your agency
and any other agency that supports their position, “you make me
sick to my stomach.”

That you even had to ask…

“Another CDF BC”

10/18 Ab,

Just a few comments:

IAFF issue: I don't feel threatened by the IAFF legislation. When our neighboring career firefighters began efforts to unionize 10 or 12 years ago, city hall found a reason to terminate the organizer who was a quality firefighter. A couple years ago the administration declared a brother physically unfit for duty just months before he would be eligible for pension. There is a need to force collective bargaining on municipalities.

If a community won't support their VFD without a neighboring career department paying a living wage for the other's "volunteers" -- then maybe they need to go career, too.

Young & Dumb is wrong about the importance of the student firefighter group at Univ. of Montana and other colleges: his efforts and those of similar groups concern all of us, as their work is the future of wildland firefighting and the land management agencies.

And finally, a question for the LP crew....is the RO saying the crew can't have time off to attend Matt Will's memorial, or that they just won't be in pay status?

vfd cap'n

Their FS green crew buggies certainly won't be there... Ab.

10/18 Well, the decision not to allow the LP Crew to attend the memorial service
is about the lowest thing I've ever heard of. The individual or group of
individuals who made that decision should be ashamed of themselves. This is
for a brother firefighter! Whenever a fellow firefighter or police officer
is killed in the line of duty other fire or law enforcement agencies send
personnel to show their support, respect and honor for the fallen, their
families, and their agency. We all grieve when we lose one of our own and
the utmost respect and honor must be shown. The agency has sunk to a new

Kevin Joseph
Division Chief
10/18 How in the world can the USFS even attempt to claim to be a professional organization when they deny their employees the common courtesy of attending a Memorial Service for a neighboring agency's fallen member ?
If you folks don't get your act together and actually get together to truly organize yourselves into a cohesive membership, then you will ALL continue to be treated in this fashion.

I am truly sorry that you were denied a chance to show your emotions and give support to a neighboring firefighter.
As for the decision by your managers to not allow you to attend.....well....I'm afraid that my words aren't meant for this venue........

You all made an honest and heartfelt attempt to show your respect... too bad YOU never get any from your agency.

Copter 100

10/18 Dear LPF C-1

Thanks to whomever threw my name in the mix about attorneys...:) This isn't a legal issue. If an employee goes against a management directive, however insensitive and idiotic it may be, it would be the Union, NFFE that would help those employees deal with the consequences, not an attorney.

That being said, someone needs to dig to find out exactly who the insensitive individual is at the RO who made this decision. I would like to think anyone in that capacity was in attendance at the Esperanza memorial and saw the outpouring of support for the E-57 crew, their families & Forest Service colleagues from CAL-FIRE and so many others.

A lot of emotion here. First & foremost I don't care how tough you are LPF C-1 crew, get some debriefing help/counseling. I had the same mentality for most of my firefighting career only to realize keeping things inside was eating me up and not healthy.

Secondly, if someone off your crew wants the FWFSA's help then call me at 208-775-4577. Looking at the list of crew members I don't see one FWFSA member. That is irrelevant at a time like this but a timely call to some of my pals including Congressman Sam Farr might resolve the issue.

It is likely that whomever made this callous decision was basing his/her decision on the interpretation of Title 5 USC section 6328 having to do with funeral attendance which specifically allows for paid time off to attend funerals of other federal employees.

This was a CAL-FIRE fire and the LPF folks were working in cooperation. So, if someone wants to get technical there really isn't a provision codified in the law which would permit the crew to attend this funeral/service.

You can't just jump in a crew buggy and go where ever you want. So, if you truly want some help in correcting what I consider to be a gross error in judgment by someone in the RO then I'd contact Joe Duran of NFFE and me if you'd like.


Casey Judd
Business Manager

Those going to the service are no doubt already preparing and off-line. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Ab.

10/18 From the hotlist forum: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2118

This is cr*p!

It may be time to intentionally "doctor up" and have part of our treatment be going to the service.

Next time there is a death close to us, I think all involved need to demand and get in writing that some one of us is or may experience post traumatic stress characteristics. Usually we all say no because we do better dealing with it among ourselves and in our own way. If they take that away, I say we hand it back to them.


10/18 LPF C1,

The current systemic problem with FS management (I refuse to label them leadership) is no one feels they can wipe their bums or sneeze without Regional or Washington approval. Micro-management at its finest. No ranger is currently empowered to make decisions commensurate with their line authority. Your division chief should have just made a "command decision" and said "go". In the FS of today it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission, in your case the first mistake was someone asked a ranger.

Shame on the person who denied your approval to attend, sting

10/18 LPF C-1,

Load the boys up in the buggies, and head to the memorial. If you get in
trouble there are plenty of us that got your back. Casey and/or Ab
probably know an attorney or 2 if you get in that much trouble.

Not caring much anymore what they say
10/18 Ab,
You asked

If you all said you did not need it, did you ask up front to be able to attend services?

It was known to our District Ranger and our Division, that we wanted to go and we had gotten the ok to go. Until today (yesterday) at about 5:50pm. At that time both the Ranger and the Division had gotten a call from the Regional office that the district has the ok to send only an engine and a deputy officer to the memorial. Both our Ranger and Division had fought for us and couldn't get the ok for us to go...

Its kinda funny when we lost five of our finest on the Esparanza fire, CAL FIRE and other agencies sent hundreds of engines and personnel from all over California to pay their respects to another agency's loss... errrrrr getting so frustrated right now !!

Its only an hour drive away from our station, so what is the big deal ?


10/17 Ab,

We were offered the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing , but none of us took it.
No one on the crew felt like we needed it.
Its just hard for us to understand why our agency will not support us in this now !

so saddened and so frustrated
10/17 As you all know, on October 8th 2007, CAL FIRE bulldozer operator Matt Will, was killed while fighting the Colorado fire. We, Los Padres National Forest Crew-1 (Monterey) initial attacked the fire and were working the same division about 100 yards below when the accident took place. For the past week our entire crew has planed and prepared to attend the Memorial and celebrate Matt’s life. This evening, just as we were about to leave work we were informed that the Regional Forest Service Office denied our crew the opportunity to represent the agency and attend the Memorial. The way this crew feels after hearing about this news can’t even be described in words. We are all questioning the integrity and moral values of the Forest Service. We feel this is a huge slap in the face and do not see any logic in the decision to reject our attendance to the memorial. We were cutting the same line with Matt fighting for the same cause. One of our fellow firefighter brothers was killed that day and we worked hand in hand with the rescue efforts to save him. This wasn’t the first time the crew has worked with Matt. We have initial attacked several of the same fires in our local area.

We find it completely disrespectful of our agency to make such a heartless decision. Especially after CAL FIRE has shown such great support in the past during times such as the Esperanza Fire, when we lost five of our brothers. This choice that the regional office has made has our whole crew in complete dismay. We are questioning the leadership and the overall organization of the Forest Service. Who made this final decision, we are not sure. All we know, is it came from above from the regional level. As a crew we have all decided to take matters in our own hands and attend the memorial on our own time. We are taking annual leave, driving our own vehicles, wearing our personal clothing, and representing our crew, not the agency. LPF Crew-1 feels the whole situation is completely ridiculous, disrespectful and dishonorable. That is why we are going to the memorial anyway and paying our respects to Matt Will. Hopefully, this message will grab somebody’s attention and makes them realize what has been done is flat out wrong. In the future the Forest Service needs to wake up and prevent something like this to ever happen again!

Sincerely, LPF C-1 Monterey

You will be missed Matt !!!!!

Jimmy Hart
Tony Velasquez
D. DeVriendt
J. Harris
R. Myers
E. Harris
G. Burris
N. Silva
G. Sanchez
S. Acosta
S. Palmer
B. McDonough
J. Martinez
J. Baker
P. Morrison
S. Kirk
J. McGraw

I have included a picture of the helispot we had cleared out so 406 could drop off a medic

so saddened and so frustrated


Thank you. You represent all of us.

I must also ask. Were you offered and did you receive Critical Incident Stress Debriefing?
If you all said you did not need it, did you ask up front to be able to attend services?
Lessons Learned: Being able to move past tragedy often involves attending services and paying respects, participating in laying the person to rest with honor. I don't know if the Forest Service head honchos realize this. Ab.

10/17 Joatman,

There are Fire Specialist (Wildland) in Alaska formally Fire Suppression Specialist. With the push for RX/fire use and to fill demand and better describe positions the FS fire specialist was adopted.

I hope this helps you out with you query.

AK fire guy
10/17 The new changes to pension rules (the 10% penalty exemption age 50, FEHBA and LTC premiums pre-tax) are not found in the link I posted. That is the 2006 guide. The 2007 guide is not out yet. The changes are from the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Sec 828 for the TSP penalty change and Sec 845 for the health insurance premiums. It applies to all retired firefighters state and local too, not just Feds. Regardless of how one otherwise feels about Bush, this bill is a nice present for retired firefighters and cops.

For all the Fed retirees who have not heard yet -- the 2008 COLA for CSRS is set at 2.3%, FERS at 2.0%. Should show up in your January checks.


10/17 Mellie:

If you like the Wikipedia Hotshots article, check this one out:


10/17 The Brush Coat Medic and ARFF are continuing discussion on firefighter volunteerism and legislation denying that on the hotlist:



10/17 Here's a good one with fun links to follow from the main content:

Wikipedia's definition of a hotshot crew:

Now I wonder who wrote that???

I need to look up smokejumpers....


10/17 To the masses,

Does anybody know where a "Wildland Firefighter Specialist" can
get a job with that title?

Is there such a position?

Thanks Ab,
10/17 Just curious if anyone knows when the "Angora Deployment-Peer Report" will
be coming out? I was involved in the interview process with the team
conducting the peer review. Was told the report would be out in about four
weeks (end of July), have not heard a thing since.

Jim Huston
Laguna IHC
10/17 Hi all,

This really doesn't concern many of you, or the discussion at hand (IAFF), but since so many people from just about everywhere there's fire read They Said, I thought I'd say it here...

A small group of folks at the University of Montana are getting together and starting a student firefighters group. It looks like we'll be a chapter of the Student Firefighter Association, already present at Colorado State University (See their site @ www.warnercnr.colostate.edu/students/clubs/fire/). We are also looking at starting a student chapter of the Student Association for Fire Ecology (SAFE, website @ www.fireecology.net/pages/42), for those who are interested in a more academic organization. We'll be starting out small, probably more of a social networking group to help out younger firefighters in finding jobs and career opportunities, but are hoping to get out and do some local Firewise projects and RX burning in the future, including possibly making trips to Florida or Region 3 during winter break for a kind of RX training academy for UM credits. As I said, that's all in the air as this is brand new, but the more people we have interested, the more likely this is to happen.

This is a big step for students at UM, and if there are any UM student firefighters who read They Said that would like to get involved, email me at the address found on my website, www.fireandforestry.com, (justin at fire and forestry dot com - remove spaces - if you'd rather not visit the website) for more information. Student firefighters from any discipline (history, poli sci, biology, business, whatever) are welcomed, as we want this group to be more than just a small bunch of forestry students.

Thanks Ab for providing a widely-read place to get info like this out to a HUGE audience!

Young and Dumb

Y & D: What a proactive way to bring about change. Carry on. If you collectively can spur the development of an Emphasis in Fire, you'd be eligible for the scholarship IAWF is working on developing. I revamped the Colleges and Universities page over the weekend. There are very few (with *) that offer a BS with an emphasis, option, or concentration in Wildland Fire. I also updated the CA Regional Occupational Program page. If anyone has similar training info from other states, please send it in. Ab.

10/17 Gordon

You mention in your 10/12 post that the IRS Guide for Fed. Retirees
states that firefighters retiring at age 50 are not subject to the 10% penalty
for early withdrawal of TSP funds. Could you please provide the
document and reference? Thanks.


10/17 This past weekend I read a passage that had a powerful impact on me and I
hope that it does the same to you. Whenever you are asked to donate to
the WFF, remember these words -

We are known for what we give, not what we keep, as our bodies are
our only real belongings. Giving to those in need - without hope of
return - nurtures a caring and generous spirit.


10/17 Dear Ab, Dave Kerr and jimhart,

I wanted to share with you some of the thanks I received over the weekend from residents of Whispering Pines. As a group they are ecstatic over the efforts of BLM, CDF, Julian-Cuyamaca FPD and the greater Julian FireSafe Councils in the re-creation of the Sunrise Fuelbreak and the associated education, enforcement, fuels modification and resulting fire suppression success. The federal agency under direction of the National Fire Plan recognized the threat posed the Public Lands by the community and the danger to the community posed by uncontrolled wildfire from wildlands. The methods used were hand work by crews, a lite agency dozer with light ground pressure with a brush rake. A masticator and the Volunteers even assisting with pile burns. The result a thing of beauty, a shaded fuelbreak through forest fuels and a mosaic with specimen plants thru shrub fuels. Thankfully, the County and State increased defensible space requirements for firefighter safety, and the State enforced vegetation maintenance.

In reply to another comment I am concerned that the King would have required private property owners, many with limited means, to pay for the fuel break before it could be built. Without the fuel break, many homes in the community would have burned, lives placed at risk, civilian as well as fire fighter. Providing fire mitigation efforts to only those that can pay is not a defensible position. (No pun intended).

This same community of private property owners have homes and cabins dating back to the thirties, with some newer construction. The newer homes are constructed under far more stringent fire safety codes. Many homeowners in these communities, as well as towns all across the country, can not afford to bring their homes fully compliant to current more stringent codes. However, the King would mandate bringing all homes to current code. What does the King do to those who cannot afford to upgrade? Lien their homes with loans they cannot repay? Take their Homes? Demolish them? How about a better strategy - have fire personnel work with homeowners to use mitigation tools to reduce the risk to their homes - some of the most valuable tools involve work, not money, to clear brush and take other steps to remove combustible hazards in and around property. And suggest upgrades that could be considered based on a homeowners ability to pay.

What if John Q Public wanted to build or re-build utilizing FireSafe/Firewise construction techniques and concepts on his lot that sat at the top of the hill (Old Fire, Pines Fire), in a canyon (Waterman Fire, Topanga Fire), midslope, atop a ridge (Oakland Hills,Pines Fire), or the base of the slope (Panorama Fire, Old Fire), but the King dictated he could not build on any of these locations. His lot is now valueless. Is this a fair and just policy or an unreasonable burden? Excluding building on any fire risk areas excludes a good part of the country's private lands. Requiring fire safety building codes is a more reasonable and fair approach - accomplishes our goals and is a fair cost benefit on new construction addressing potential fire danger.

Defensible Space, fuelbreaks and roadside brushing are all tools that reduce the size of fires when they occur, and therefore reduce the risk to life and property - that's civilian and firefighters lives I am talking about. There should not be debate on this issue by true safety proponents - and I will vigorously oppose any efforts to require an individuals ability to pay as a pre-requisite for community property protection and mitigation efforts. As I drive around I admire the fire safety and fuels work done around communities and yes, Camp Pendleton. There are those who believe they care for the firefighter but go on record to oppose these efforts and they only re-enforce my commitment to support the successful efforts to reduce the size and scope of the fire risk we live with.

10/16 The Alaska Division of Forestry is recruiting for a seasonal State Logistics Center Coordinator to manage the State Logistics Center (SLC) in Fairbanks. Check out the announcement and links on the Jobs Page OA.
10/16 Does anybody know where I can obtain a copy of the Dixie NF Dixie
Hotshots Firewhirl Video clip? I saw portions of it, but the copy we
have is flawed.


FF Mike Nelson
10/16 Fedwatcher II

In my post I was just trying to clarify the pay issue. Just because I appreciate what the IAFF has done for my department does not mean I took the " facade hook, line & sinker". I believe I understand and most importantly respect your view points. (and those from BLMboy) Well noted... I have been on both sides spending over tens years as a 0462. Like I said, the union has helped us in many areas. Do I feel there is a lot of Bulls**t involved in the IAFF? ABSOLUTELY!!! Do I buy off on everything? NO! I truly feel that things could operate and be handled better. I agree with your phrase “when you use the "brotherhood" buzzword for firefighters, that means ALL firefighters, not just those paying huge dues to the IAFF" I also feel there is just as many problems, if not the same, in career departments as well as volunteer. ie staffing, pay, equipment etc. Some departments are simple better off then others....

IAFF & volunteering. I have seen many departments allow there members to volunteer as long as it does not effect their job. If it does, then they are ask to make the choice.

You stated " I think its time for all IAFF feds to start their own union". Would it not be safe to say that this would also have its own fair share of problems? But I would agree at least it would be looking out for the best interest of the fed firefighter.
I will do my best not to lump anyone here into a category, I would appreciate the same.

This is a topic I feel can go on forever, and honestly don't know the answer.

10/16 Brother Sean,

Wow…glad to see your passion for your union local…lots
of paid firefighters share the same feelings. I know
as a non-union firefighter I have, and do, appreciate
the good things the IAFF has accomplished. But I am
also a facts kinda guy…so rather than speak with just
passion let’s bring in some facts to go along with it…

First, you made a very general statement about vol
departments not being able to respond to emergencies
properly according to NFPA and DoD regulations.
Ah…just a reminder that NFPA compliance is voluntary
last time I checked. And I am not sure about the DoD
thing either other than lots of vol departments are
not located anywhere near DoD facilities.

However, didn’t volunteers take part in responding to
the 9/11 Pentagon incident? Actually it was over 100
vol departments that responded directly to and
provided back-filling. I don’t think DoD had
regulation problems with any of that. Along that same
line…I don’t think you can name many paid fire
departments that are 100% compliant with NFPA

And just as a thought…over 375 vol departments
responded directly to, and recovering from, WTC.


A – 1) The IAFF could have worked to change the
origin of and compensation amounts rather eliminating
someone’s ability to fight fire in their community.

A – 2) It is 2007 and a GS-7 makes a tiny bit over

B – You mentioned “…9 times out of ten they leave the
firefighters to fend for themselves.” Not that I
doubt you...but…would you mind listing the 10 cases
you are referring to?

C – 1) Numbers on rigs: I am a retired Vol. Chief
from a department in Florida. Our first out Class A
pumper (brand new E-One) ran with a minimum of three
plus a paramedic. Our career brothers in the same
county and neighboring district ran (on new and almost
new E-Ones) with no more than three and that included
a paramedic (usually). Our career brothers to the
north, different county, neighboring district ran (on
older Class B pumpers) with two and that only included
an EMT. Oh, and for us that still left a back-up crew
at our station for our 2nd run Class A (6-year old
E-One) or the tanker or the brush truck or the light
rescue…well, you get the idea. Oh, yeah…and the page
also goes out and we can have 5 – 15 more people there
within 30 minutes.

C – 2) “2 in – 2 out” Rule: I don’t believe that IAFF
and FedFire were the only ones supporting the rule.
But if you have evidence to the contrary I would love
to see it.

C – 3) “IAFF and CRAP”: It was great to hear that the
IAFF assisted you in obtaining better gear…and I am
sorry to hear you couldn’t accomplish those things
through your own efforts. When I was a vol we would
approach the Board of Directors, make a request for
gear, they would validate the need, raise the money
and tell us to make the purchase. So we didn’t have
to worry about “crap” like you did.

In the past IAFF has conducted programs to better the
conditions of firefighters…no doubt about that…and we
all appreciate it. But I have also seen the carnage
they can bring into a community trying to take over
volunteer departments. I have never personally seen
the IAFF yet come to the aid of a volunteer
department; they normally come into the picture as an
adversary. How unfortunate…think of all the good they
could have done if they would have remembered their
roots, their history, their volunteer brothers and
worked together, hand-in-hand, to accomplish what is
best for everyone. And please…don’t be so naive and
try to convince anyone that IAFF isn’t trying to
convert volunteer stations into career stations for
anything other than money as the primary motivation.

I can appreciate your loyalty and devotion to an
organization that has done so much for you
personally…your loyalty is admirable. Just don’t be
blind about it…that is polarizing.

Working together is always the preferred solution;
seeking “win-win”. Unfortunately not many communities
can afford paid fire departments…and communities enjoy
the role that volunteer departments have within their
communities. Most firefighters in the country are
firefighters based on dedication, love of community,
devotion to neighbors, sense of duty, and never
receive a dime for it. You are one of the lucky
ones…and in the minority. Enjoy your life and
career…be safe brother and protect the stairwell!


10/16 TO MS and Sean

I too was a federal DoD firefighter until my retirement a few years ago. I don't know how long you have been in the IAFF or how involved you are, but without trying to be disrespectful to your loyalty to the IAFF, I think you've taken the IAFF facade hook, line & sinker.

As a former loyal IAFF member involved in the local leadership of the 16th district for many years, I was able to distinguish between the facade and reality. The reasoning you offer for the legislation and why the issue of volunteers is raised is the benevolent spin put on the issue to get support for the legislation. Whether it is safety, NFPA "Law" or OWCP or the lack of training of volunteers referred to in Mr. Riley's post, these are what the IAFF leadership wants its members to see so they can go forth and sell the legislation.

To differentiate between reality and the spin, you have to have well over a decade of inside understanding of the IAFF and have participated in the convention debates regarding this issue and the issue of IAFF members volunteering. Further, as federal 0081 firefighters, you are supporting a legislative issue that really has no impact on 0081 firefighters. I did too. And that is what the leadership counts on. Firefighters to go to Washington DC once a year, march lock-step behind any issue whether it benefits them or not, and be good loyal members.

That is admirable but not reality. For instance you both tout the IAFF's efforts for federal firefighters. Depending on how long you have been involved, I, and perhaps you too were expected to support the SAFER Act and the FIRE Act. What benefit did those legislative initiatives do for the 0081 firefighter? Nothing.

To understand why there might be some cynicism about this legislation by the federal wildland firefighters and others on this site you have to go back to the mid to late '90s when the wildland firefighters led much of the effort to get support for and pass the Federal Firefighter Pay Fairness Act. When passed in 1998, we all (0081 firefighters) got some additional dough, but the wildland firefighters, who also then were part of the IAFF got squat, "carved out" of the bill by the IAFF leadership. That is the reality.

So when those of us who have had years of experience dealing with the IAFF and its internal politics see their members, such as yourself, buying into the spin, it naturally generates some comments.

This legislation has been the IAFF's #1 priority for over a decade. As someone here recently posted, in the next two months, with 12 appropriations bills still to be passed, it will be some fête for the Senate to take up this bill and pass it. If it does, Bush will veto it and there are probably not enough votes to override the veto.

So, next March, if you travel to Washington to attend the IAFF legislative conference, you, as DoD federal firefighters will once again be asked to fork out big FIREPAC dollars and go out and get your congressional representatives to support a new version of the bill.

We all have opinions, and mine is almost worth as much as the next person's. But my opinion, based upon years and years of work with the IAFF leadership and for that organization, tells me loud and clear that this has everything to do with money and power and nothing about the wonderful, caring reasons each of you cite.

The IAFF does a remarkable job for its municipal members. However, when you use the "brotherhood" buzzword for firefighters, that means ALL firefighters, not just those paying huge dues to the IAFF. The IAFF does not own the American fire service although apparently it hopes to someday. It does not own the term "firefighting brotherhood" which consists of all firefighters regardless of whether they are well paid or volunteer.

This issue is just like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). They want to organize anything anywhere. It has gotten to the point where even among their own dues paying members, there is competition for the same dollars i.e. RNs vs LVNs.

Now, we see firefighter going after firefighter. That, in my opinion, is shameful and speaks a great deal about the "brotherhood" you feel you belong to. I guarantee you that as long as you remain a robot within the IAFF you will be welcome. Ruffle a few feathers and question the status quo and then see what a wonderful benevolent organization you belong to. Best of luck to both of you in your DoD careers.

I think its time for all IAFF feds to start their own union.

Fedwatcher II
10/16 Sean -

I appreciate seeing your point of view regarding IAFF. However, the points you have identified in defense of the IAFF, simply illustrate the arrogance of the IAFF leadership on this issue. What the IAFF leadership is saying, in effect, is that their members don't know enough to become fully knowledgeable about the worker's comp issues for both their paid and volunteer jobs, they aren't cognizant of the political climates at their volunteer agencies, and that they can't identify a volunteer agency that is utilizing unsafe strategies and tactics. If I were an IAFF member right now, I would find these inferences pretty offensive!

Simple solution:

IAFF could send out a white paper to all members detailing the issues you did in your post. Each member could make a determination whether they wanted to continue with their volunteerism or not, knowing full well that they could possibly be jeopardizing their career position in several ways. IAFF protects its members, volunteer agencies don't lose a wealth of knowledge, training, and experience.

Proceeding in this manner, we will probably see a small decrease in career/volunteers, but certainly not as drastic a decline if this ill-conceived legislation is enacted.


10/16 Ken has provided some interesting info on the hotlist on his upcoming run.


Please pledge/donate.
See who has pledged/donated.

Run time is quickly approaching. Ab.

10/16 me,

Sean is correct about the pay. I am a GS-7 Federal Firefighter, I make 60,000 a year. Remember we work a minimum of 144 hours per pay period not 80. the pay scale is a little confusing for those who do not work under it. I am proud to be an IAFF member just as proud as you should be for being a FWFSA member. I agree with Sean, our union has done well for our safety and holding management accountable for following DOD and NFPA requirements.


So you're a Series 0081, an actual Federal Firefighter, not a forestry or range tech (Series 0462 & 0455 respectively) or a biologist (Series 0401).

current Fed FIREFIGHTER 0081 GS 7 job offerings with pay (GS spans GS 3--> 14)

current Forestry Technician (firefighter) 0462 GS 7 job offerings with pay

current Range Technician (firefighter) 0462 GS 7 job offerings with pay

current Biologist (firefighter) 0401 GS 7 job offerings with pay... Oh, no GS 7s listed with this one... Ab.

10/16 Sean

Just to let you know a GS-7 makes way less than
$60,000 a year, I'm a GS-9 and I won't even make that
much this year. And as far as a township or
department leaving people "hung out to dry" I think
you got them mixed up with the feds. We're the ones
that are famous for hanging out forestry techs.

10/16 This is in response to Rich Fauble's and Stump Shots comments about the IAFF. Here are the reason the IAFF does not want union members to join Volunteer Fire Departments. It is based on most states workers compensation laws, protection from law suits and for the fact that a lot of volunteer departments lack the training and have the inability to respond to emergencies properly according to NFPA and DoD regulations. So, to expand on this, here is what I am talking about:

A: If you get hurt you will not receive your full-time pay because you were hurt working on another department. You receive compensation based upon who you were working for at the time of injury. Last time I checked a GS-7 Firefighter makes about $60,000 more than Volleys do.

B: If you get sued for anything incident or job related at your volunteer department, you more than likely will have to foot the legal bills. Most townships and fire protection districts do not have the money to pay out for a lawsuit and 9 times out of ten they leave the firefighter to fend for themselves or outright place blame on the firefighter so he gets hung out to dry, whether or not the firefighter was actually at fault.

C: I don't know how it is out on the West Coast, but here in the Midwest, Volunteer Departments usually respond with one to two firefighters on each company and hope that everyone else responds to the scene or the next fire protection district to respond has enough to cover. At least in Fed Fire, the IAFF has fought and has won the two in two out rule. That means that every company responds with 4 on each rig and we respond automatically with a minimum of 12 on the initial response. Also because the IAFF has fought for and won several battles to make sure that NFPA is our law in Fed Fire, we actually get the equipment we need to do our jobs. From helmets to turn-out gear to apparatus and equipment, if is wasn't for the IAFF, Fed Fire would still be using CRAP.

The IAFF is just trying to protect it's firefighters in the best possible way. If it weren't for them and the dues they collect, a lot of firefighters would be jobless and would not be compensated as well as we are. They protection they give and the battles they wage cost money. That is why I am proud to be a dues paying member and a fraternal brother in the IAFF!!!

FF Sean Riley
IAFF local F-37

Thanks, Sean, for the added perspective. Ab.

10/15 The IAFF chapters I am familiar with all use "prior practice" as a mantra to support their constant demands. It seems to me that the "prior practice" of career firefighters volunteering with agencies other than their employer is well documented in EVERY state in the U.S.

Their efforts to introduce legislation to ban this practice is arrogant and ludicrous! Unions were developed to provide for safe working conditions and to protect workers from abuses by management - not to reduce the ability and willingness of their members to serve the communities they live in.

What a pathetic attempt to increase dues. Hey, guys, I got an idea - hold a freakin' bake sale!

Firefighters are firefighters, regardless of pay status. Period.

10/15 Back in 1976 I was told by my local F-85 of IAFF, That I could not be a Volunteer in
the Small Town I live in. I told the Union, ok I will drop out of the union, have a nice day.
Once again THE IAFF has forgotten the history of the Fire Service and Our Country
of Volunteers. Would you think they want to make more money for the Union ??????

Rich Fauble, Retired Federal and Still A Volunteer Firefighter

10/15 Matthew Will Memorial Information

On October 8, 2007 Matthew Richard Will, a heavy fire equipment operator with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), was involved in a bulldozer rollover accident while working the Colorado Fire in Monterey County. Will died as a result of the accident on October 9, 2007.

Memorial Information:

The Memorial Service for CAL FIRE HFEO Matt Will has been scheduled for 2:00 pm Thursday October 18, 2007 at the San Benito County Fairgrounds in Hollister. Directions to the Fairgrounds.

There will not be a large formal Fire apparatus procession, instead Fire Apparatus and Dozer/Transports will be parked in a static display.

Dozer/Transports are requested to arrive by 10:00am so they may be placed in a static display that the family procession will drive through.

Fire Apparatus are requested to arrive by 11:00am so they may be placed in a static display that the family procession will drive through.

At approximately 1:45pm vehicle operators will stand by their vehicles at the position of attention, with their emergency lights activated, while the family procession passes by.

All other uniformed personnel will be directed to form a “Sea of Blue” human corridor through which the family will walk thru into the Fairgrounds. Specific instructions will be provided upon your arrival at the Fairgrounds.

CAL FIRE personnel whose classification requires a Class "A" uniform shall wear a Class "A" uniform. All other personnel, including on-duty personnel on in-service engines, shall wear the best possible uniform in the most presentable condition.

Friends/Family/General Public are requested to arrive by 12:00pm.


There will be a reception immediately following the Memorial Service nearby on the Fairgrounds property.


Please RSVP for the memorial at the following e-mail address: rsvpwillmemorial@fire.ca.gov

In the text of your email please provide the following information:

* Agency name with contact phone number
* Type of vehicle i.e Dozer/transport, Engine, Utility, Marked Admin veh etc.
* Number of personnel attending

Honor Guard:

Honor Guards interested in participating are asked to call Jeff Windham with CDF Firefighters Honor Guard at (951) 906-2382 ASAP.
10/15 Re: Dick Mangan's question about our thoughts on the IAFF prohibiting paid
firefighters from volunteering.

I live in a very rural state which has only three or four paid city fire
departments. The vast majority of firefighters in the state are
volunteers, although there are significant numbers of state and federal
(BIA, BLM, FWS, NPS, USFS, Air Force, and Dept of Veteran's Affairs)
firefighters. I know lots of federal firefighters who are also on VFDs
(myself included), and at least one who is the chief of the local VFD.
Some VFDs are nearly entirely staffed by off-duty federal firefighters
and/or feds that work in non-fire disciplines like range or forestry.
Would they be counted since they get paid to fight wildland fires?

The effect of this legislation on the local VFDs would be pretty severe.
Most of the areas that rely on VFDs are experiencing the same problems
other rural areas have: declining populations and declining tax bases.
There is simply no way any of these areas could pay for a fire department.
It's a three to five hour drive to the nearest "big" city, so combining
departments won't work in this case.

This is horrible legislation for rural states!

Midwest AFMO

I copied and pasted the comments on this thread over to the hotlist to see if others there would like to contribute. www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2113 Stay tuned... Ab.

10/14 Is it true that Mark Rey may be going to jail for Contempt of Court tomorrow?

I thought for years he should have been jailed for Contempt of Congress as he lied, year after year, to Congress, the people of the United States, and the employees of the Forest Service. I'd bet he also lied to the SECAG and POTUS. SECAG and POTUS should have dumped him years ago.

He should have been brought up on felony charges for his interference in South Carolina benefitting a Congressman who was illegally burning and allowed fire to escape on to federal lands.

/s/ Fingers Crossed
10/14 CA Assembly Bill 220, Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights

Beginning January 1, 2008 all firefighters employed by a California Public Agency will be covered. The provisions of the bill (AB 220) signed into law are similar to the Peace Officer Bill of Rights.

Great Job CPF!! (It has taken CPF over 20 years to get this bill passed.)

SoCal CalFire

Landmark Firefighter Procedural Bill of Rights Signed by Governor

Assembly Majority Leader Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles)

CPF-sponsored legislation giving firefighters administrative safeguards in instances where they are being investigated, interrogated and, as a result subjected to unwarranted punitive action, has been signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

AB 220, authored by Assembly Majority Leader Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), was approved 29-11 by the Senate on September 11th and unanimously by the Assembly in June. It was signed October 13th, less than a month after winning overwhelming, bipartisan support in the Legislature.

The action by the governor and the legislature caps a 20-year struggle to extend common-sense job protections to all first responders. Currently, these protections apply only to law enforcement.

What the Bill Does

AB 220 extends procedural protections to firefighters that are similar to those afforded peace officers and arson investigators under the existing law provisions of the Public Safety Officers' Procedural Bill of Rights Act (POBR). Currently, firefighters are extended certain due process protections, as determined by the California Supreme Court in the landmark Skelly case, but, with the exception of arson investigators, they are excluded from POBR.

Firefighters may find themselves in a number of situations where their sworn duty commands appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the public. As such, firefighters who trust their instincts in volatile emergency situations deserve of the same level of administrative protection as their peace officer and arson investigator colleagues when administrative action is taken against them.

A handful of jurisdictions in California have locally negotiated firefighter agreements in place that grant their firefighters administrative protections similar to those proposed in AB 220. In these few jurisdictions, the collectively bargained agreements have helped stabilize employer-employee and community relations. This is due, in part, to the fact that such agreements reflect joint decision-making and consultation between labor and management, which is an essential element to assuring that stable relations are continued and that effective services are provided to the communities that these firefighters serve.

AB 220 specifies:

  • The conditions under which investigations and interrogations that may lead to punitive action of firefighters must be conducted;
  • That a firefighter will not be subject to punitive action for exercising his or her rights under this bill or for any alleged misconduct if the investigation of the allegation is not completed within one year of discovery;
  • That an administrative appeal by a firefighter will be conducted in conformance with rules and procedures adopted by the applicable local agency, consistent with the Administrative Procedures Act;
  • That a firefighter be allowed to read and sign any adverse comment before it is entered into their personnel file. If the firefighter refuses to sign a comment, it will be noted and the firefighter will be required to initial it. The firefighter will also have 30 days to file a written response to the adverse comment entered into their personnel file;
  • That a firefighter cannot be compelled to submit to a lie detector test against their will and that no disciplinary action can be taken against the firefighter for refusing to submit to one;
  • That a firefighter cannot be required to disclose financial information unless otherwise required by law or court order; That a fire chief, prior to removal, must be provided with written notice stating the reasons for removal and an opportunity for administrative appeal;
  • That a firefighter's locker or other storage space cannot be searched except in the firefighter's presence, or with their consent, or if a valid search warrant has been obtained; and
  • That it is unlawful to deny a firefighter the rights and protections afforded under this bill.

"AB 220 grants firefighting personnel needed safeguards against unwarranted punitive action where they can not otherwise defend themselves," said CPF President Lou Paulson. "We are appreciative that the Governor has signed this important measure into law."

10/14 Hugh,

Great post!!! Your list of abuses incurred upon retired ADs is right on with regard to what happened to me and to many folks I know during the past few years. It is also why I am severely curtailing my involvement in wildland fire at the retired ripe old age of 57 with 38 fire seasons worth of experience. No more ATGS'n, etc. for me.

I have quit the ADFA and now pay my dues to FWFSA for the reasons you stated. Casey et al are doing something albeit not directly for ADs/retirees. ADFA is doing nothing. I am ashamed now of the formerly energetic ADFA organization that you (we?) founded.

C'mon now ADFA....Response?

Don Coyote

Wasn't the ATGS position (Air Tactical Group Supervisor) one that was UTF (Unable to Fill)? Here are some Mellie Questions about ATGS on the hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2105 Ab.

10/14 I'm glad I looked at the web site today and saw the posts about the abysmal
number of signups for Ken's run. Though I gave up firefighting two years
ago (yes, there is life after fire), I am appalled at the paltry number of
signups by retirees who still go out as ADs or rehired annuitants.

And whether or not these folks are working at the totally unfair, flat per
hour AD rates (no OT or HZ) --- or at the much fairer rehired annuitant
rates (their last grade level including OT and HZ) --- is irrelevant.
Surely some of my fellow AD'ers can step up to the plate for this fine

By the way, has anyone seen the AD Firefighter Association lately? I've sat
by an entire summer reading posts from confused and uncertain ADs, some of
whom have been clearly discriminated against on travel, pay, etc. --- all
the while keeping my mouth shut waiting expectantly for the assistance and
explanations regarding AD issues that ADFA used to post regularly on
wildlandfire.com. Additionally, the ADFA Board made every effort to contact
each individual who had a problem individually (Dick Grace was particularly
effective in this regard).

No one from the organization I used to chair apparently sees fit to assist,
at least publicly.

Maybe I'm missing something. From what I can gather from ADFA on their web
site, the popular phrase is (paraphrased) "working behind the scenes with
agency representatives" rather than some of the more direct tactics I as the
Chair advocated and executed (such as faxing 535 and 50 State Governors on
AD issues and inequalities).

All I can say is that a pat on ADFA's collective head by Karen Wood
approximately 18 months ago with the message of (paraphrased) "we share your
concerns and we'll work on it" is not bearing a hell of a lot of fruit that
I can see. Current Chair's Ken Palmrose's letter of June 15, 2007 on the
ADFA web site at www.adfirefighter.org is a well-written explanation of ADFA
objectives, but that only goes so far. It has been over 4 years since ADFA
was started, and from my perspective we're no closer to resolution now than
we were then. And whatever momentum we had at one time appears to have been
lost. Then again, maybe I'm not aware of "behind the scenes efforts."

However, contrast the continuing status quo of AD rates as well as the
inequitable and downright stupid AD policies (e.g., cell phones, rental
cars, etc. ad nauseam) with the admirable and incredibly effective ongoing
efforts of FWSA's Casey Judd on behalf of working, currently-employed
firefighters, and the contrast is just plain disappointing.

Oh well, leave it behind, Carson. You're just engaging in sour grapes.

Meanwhile, my immediate hope is that rank-and-file AD'ers will get those
dollars rolling in for Ken. I would encourage you to do so. Plus ADFA
always kicked in some bucks per mile, but I don't see their name on the
Pledge List. Nor do I see the ADFA logo in this web site's Classifieds. For
3 years we bought an ad from Ab to help keep this incredibly effective
dialogue of wildlandfire.com going, but that apparently has gone by the
wayside. I'd be interested in the Board's justification from dropping
support of "They Said."

On a happier note (this is purely blatant self-promotion so please forgive
me, Ab), part of my "new" non-fire life is being a jazz and blues DJ on the
local community radio station in Paonia on the Western Slope of Colorado.
This has been one of my dreams ever since I saw Clint Eastwood as a
late-night jazz DJ in "Play Misty For Me." (Another was to be as good as
Paul Butterfield with his slicked back hair and tweed jacket with 5
harmonicas in each pocket, but that one may take more time). You can
downstream live (high-speed connection only) at www.kvnf.org. Third
Saturday of every month blues, 4th Friday jazz, 1900 Mountain Time. If your
taste runs to bluegrass/country, hip hop/rap (the "good" stuff - which is
definitely an "old fogies" comment), electronica/world beat, classical,
etc., we got it all, folks. Special thanks to all those ATGSs and pilots
who kicked in during our last few pledge drives.

I've also been building fireplaces and stone walls in a somewhat successful
attempt to stay in shape. There's nothing like lifting 3-4 tons of rock and
cement to brighten up a 58-year-old's day!! I highly recommend it.

Take care, be safe, and keep the faith. After all, the late, great Otis
Redding said, "Change is gonna' come."

Right, Casey? Venceremos.

Hugh Carson
10/14 Saddened and Speechless,

I come from a family that taught about tithing. I give 10% of my yearly income to charities and have done so since I started over 20 years ago. I fully understand the need to give to others. It isn't charity if it doesn't hurt a little.

I fully understand your disappointment. You said it well, I am confused why rmm took offense. You were asking folks to give what they could.


I'd bet that "Saddened and Speechless" wasn't specifically directing the post at you.... but at folks who feel that they and their employees are invincible as they participate in wildland fire..... much like teenagers who do stupid things and don't look at the risks...... They feel it will "never happen to me or anyone I know". Sometimes bad things happen. There needs to be a safety net when bad things happen in the wildland fire community...... it's called the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Give what you can, based upon your own circumstances and up-bringing, to support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. The folks that the WFF protect are your family..... your friends..... your co-workers........

If things go well in the future, all of us will be able to tithe to other needed organizations without having to secure basic Maslow needs and focus on self actualization.

10/13 Kinda long AB so post if you like, but it answers some questions....


USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, Fire and Aviation Management
Briefing Paper on GS-401 series

Thanks. I also posted the full text on the Hotlist thread on IFPM. Ab.

10/13 Ab,

Now that IFPM has been around for a while and the
October 2009 deadline is getting ever so close, I was
wondering what everyone thinks of IFPM ? Is it worth
the cost and hassle? What will our agencies get out
of it? Is it just another example of top level
management being out of touch and throwing money at a
problem and creating new rules? Is it contradictory
to the Chiefs’ Doctrine? Will IFPM make us safer?
Will good employees be passed over and inexperienced
people with degrees move up the ladder? Will
experienced managers retire because they do not want
to go back to school? Is IFPM actually creating a new
problem which will make us less safe? Why doesn’t
IFPM answer the email link on their web page? If you
are not in an identified job, why isn’t there anyone
who can answer simple questions such as “what do I
need to get qualified in the 401 series, given my
experience and college courses”? Why didn’t they
convert all 462 fire jobs GS-7 and up to 401? Why
didn’t they audit all the career fire employees
instead of just a chosen few? Why don’t they have
counseling for the career people who will most likely
move into the 401 job? Why do center managers need
experience in reviewing and evaluating fire management
plans and developing analysis on the ecological role
of fire. I thought that’s what FMOs do.

10/12 Preliminary Memorial Information for CAL FIRE employee Matt Will

A Memorial Service for CAL FIRE HFEO Matthew Will is now being planned for
Thursday October 18, 2007 in the Hollister area. The specific location and time are
undetermined, but it can be anticipated that the event will begin mid-afternoon.
Further information will be released as soon as possible.

Information will be available at the following websites as it becomes available.

Matt Streck
CalFire PIO

10/12 Dear "FWFSA Member":

Thanks for the plug for the FWFSA. I recall hearing about Mike's comment and Lord knows that, although I love him to death, I probably would've kept the "ashamed" part out as well. But, as the El Presidente he certainly can stimulate action.

I simply want to reiterate that while the 1121 code benefits those in the higher ranks, we encourage those in all ranks and from all land management agencies to join and lend there voice to an increasingly effective movement.

For example, our legislative initiatives will benefit the full spectrum of fire positions and likely will benefit some of those in secondary positions as well. The 1121 issue (eliminating the OT pay cap) was a success especially given the fact that we had to go toe to toe with, not only the Agencies and the Administration via OPM, but also with The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) who wanted the elimination of the cap for ALL federal employees, not just wildland firefighters.

The current legislation being drafted will be a gauge of just how effective we've been in the last few years educating congress on the issues. In fact it was advice from congressional members and their staff that suggested it was time we put together an all-encompassing bill, rather than a series of individual bills.

I'm sure there are a number of reasons why folks don't join. However I hope through this forum I've let those folks know who have pondered joining that they can contact me anytime to chat about things. WARNING though: as many of you know I don't have an "off" button when it comes to talking about these issues... so beware.

10/12 Ab:

I just updated our website adding a new picture of Ken “carbo loading”. I want to assure everyone how much the Wildland Firefighter Foundation appreciates the many ways that we are supported by this wonderful community of ours. I think the point might be that there are many folks who support us regularly, but there are many that we haven’t reached yet - whether in our wildland community, the news media, or the general public. I know how passionately many of us feel about what Ken is doing (and has done for three years now), but I know personally, getting the media onboard is a struggle.

We’ll keep working on it. What’s important to remember is that through Ken’s running, and the wonderful support by MANY of you, fundraising efforts have resulted in all of us providing hotel rooms and airfare to get parents to the bedside of their badly burned son, or severely broken up daughter, sending statues to honor and recognize loved ones for a grieving widow, a mother, or a father, and keeping the lights and phone on so we are able to help when the calls come in.

Even though this has been a quiet season of lower than average fatalities, we are preparing to send a statue for the latest line of duty death in California. As people learn more about who we are and what we do, we receive a number of calls each week requesting help for a variety of reasons. We strive to do whatever we can within our mission, to help (or find help elsewhere) and treat each request in a compassionate manner.

Every donation, every pledge, every 52 Club membership, "pays forward" for the next person who needs our collective generosity. Thank you for helping.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
10/12 rmm,

Sorry, I won't apologize for the harsh tone of my post. If it gets even one person who has never donated to finally push that button then I have accomplished what I set out to do.

I applaud the fact that you have been so generous over the past year - you have certainly gone far and above what most people do. However, you and I both know that there are firefighters out there who have never given a cent to the Foundation. These are the folks that I am addressing and I still say "Shame on you".

As far as limited income, brother, you are preaching to the choir. But let me put this to you. If you folks think that you are on a limited income now, just imagine what it will be like for your family if you are killed or even injured. This is where the foundation comes in, but if we can't keep it going through fundraisers and asking people to pledge, where will your family be then? That is why we must support Ken in his run.

By the way, I DO have an idea how much the community has given. Trust me on that one.

Still saddened but maybe not so speechless

10/12 Gordon:

Thanks so very much for the info on PSOB & tax related issues. It is something I, too,
will immerse myself in to make sure I know what the heck I'm talking about in the future.

Thanks again,

10/12 Ab,

Here's a link to a story about a successful FS prescribed fire next to one of our subdivisions.

When we had to shuffle crews to staff an extra engine, one of our engine bosses said, "any
moron can run a tender." So naturally, I was re-assigned to hauling water.

It was pretty cool watching the ATV powertorches working. I think ESPN could make an
extreme sport out of that.

vfd cap'n
10/12 More problems for Ellreese:


AK Old Timer

10/12 While we're asking for support to "Get 'er done" let me say this message below from '06 was what stimulated me to action. Although it seems to guilt (has the ashamed word in it), it got me rollin! Financially it's really not a big deal.

FWFSA is an amazing organization. Casey works his butt off educating congress and has good outcomes. That said, membership is an ongoing issue as folks abandon the Forest Service for CalFire. The only way we can bring about change is by bringing it about collectively. Here's the old message, still true, regarding the profundity of the POWER if all signed up:

While talking with the President of FWFSA Mike
Preasmeyer on the Plunge fire the other day, he made a
comment that I thought was simple yet profound "If
all the folks who use prefix 11 on their payroll
sheets in front of the overtime code 21 and are NOT
members of the FWFSA, they should be ashamed of

For $10 a pay period from all those folks, we could as
an association be a force to be reckoned with. Sign
up NOW!


FWFSA member, proud of Casey and thankful he's with us!!!

I also appreciate the hard work Casey does. Consummate professional. Click the "Join the FWFSA" icon above. See what their website looks like. Sign up. Ab.

10/12 Ken's Run,

Let's not miss the point that while "only" 80 people/groups have pledged,
the total (as I write) is at $12,468.06. That's no small amount, at an average
of roughly $150 per pledge. Not an earth-shattering number (yet), but still
much better than nothing.


Young and Dumb
10/12 Saddened and Speechless,

Hey - take it a little easier. I understand the disappointment in how many
have signed up, but there is no reason to be down on everyone to the point
of insults. You have no idea how much a lot of the firefighting community
has already given through all kinds of means. You can't say we talk the
talk but don't walk the walk unless you know. Just because we don't sign
up for Ken's run doesn't mean that we haven't already thrown a lot of
support (money) to our struggling and fallen firefighters already this
year! I've personally given to several funds collected in our geographic
area and also to the WFF - over $1200 worth this year. For some with
limited income, it won't stretch any more to be able to commit to
everything that comes along. It doesn't directly translate to not caring
or not pitching in. Please mellow out!

10/12 I just got done looking at the pledge list for Ken's Run and I have to say that I am ashamed of the firefighting community. Only 76 pledges have been made and many of those are from friends and family of Ken or families that have lost a loved one. Why are there only 76 pledges with all the thousands of firefighters out there? If children can dig into their piggy banks and make a pledge, why can't you?

Everyone seems to be able to talk the talk, but no one is walking the walk. Ken is doing this run for the firefighting community. Why aren't they coming to his support? I know, you are out there saying "But nothing will happen to me. Why should I donate?" No one knows what the future brings. Just ask any family who has lost a loved one in the line of duty. It could be your family that will need the help of the WFF someday.

Shame on you.
Saddened and Speechless
10/12 The IRS guide for Fed retirees, any agency. This is the 2006 edition. The 2007 version is not out yet. Bookmark this site and watch for the new version.


OPM has reversed its initial ruling and now say that Feds that retired under the FF/LE plan are Public Safety Officers as defined in the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA 2006). The nuts and bolts of how to make your health insurance premiums tax-free is still undetermined. Hopefully the 2007 edition of Pub 721 will spell it out. This also applies to LTC premiums also, all subject to a cap of $3000 per year.

The PPA 2006 is a comprehensive omnibus bill that is mostly filled with dry technojargon on accounting methods and requirements for private sector pension plans. You can google it if you wish.

One other provision of note is the 10% early withdrawal penalty for IRAs and 401k plans (i.e. the TSP) is waived for retired public safety officers that retire at age 50. The previous age was 55 for everyone, even FF/LE.

10/11 To Rick:

You've got the right person in Lori looking into the issue. I'll chat with her next week and see if collectively, as she & I have done in the past, can come up with a concrete answer.

Who knows, it may be something that needs to be clarified in the tax codes so any ambiguity is removed. You can also contact me directly as well at cjudd@fwfsa.org or 208-775-4577.

10/11 Mitigator,

Actually, the Esperanza fire is vitally important in this discussion because it permanently changed my views on a lot of things. I certainly do not have a monopoly on the anguish it caused nor can I fully grasp the magnitude of loss the crew’s families and friends have had to deal with. However, the tragedy affected me deeply. The reasons why are not important now. What is important to understand is that doing what I can to help prevent such a thing from happening again motivates much of the work I do. I have lost all patience with ignorant planning agencies, developers, and homeowners who fail to understand the fire-prone environment in which they live.

I don’t know if you meant to imply that I am using firefighter safety as a strategy to acquire land cheaply for habitat protection. I hope not. It is difficult for me to know how to respond to such a thing other than to say I guess I have failed to communicate my honesty and sincerity in all of this – values that have guided me throughout my life. I love too many friends who risk their lives as firefighters to have ulterior motives. Using others and manipulating facts is symptomatic of politicians, not me. When it comes to wildfire issues, nothing is more important to me than the lives of firefighters. Hope that settles it.

To simplify my thoughts about everything else, let’s just forget legislation. As King I would require every WUI building, new or old, to be certified a fire-safe, shelter-in-place structure within 5 years from today. If not, it gets red flagged, meaning NO public structural fire protection. Fuel breaks? Sure, but the residents within the communities they are designed to protect pay the full costs of their construction and maintenance. And I’m not just talking about the dozer operator, but a predetermined $/acre for the damaged landscape as well. And such fuel breaks are only allowed within the confines of a complete fire risk reduction plan that considers the ENTIRE fire environment requiring fire-safe placement and building design, defensible space, etc.

Off site fire breaks represent a fundamental failure in community design, especially if they are on public land. Are they necessary sometimes? Of course. Are they overused? Yes, frequently. Many of the broad, linear scars on USMC Camp Pendleton in San Diego County are a prime example.

Zoning sites as unfit for construction? You bet. I’d start with sites resting at the top of chimneys.

As I suggested in my previous post, we can both cite examples to support our positions. For example, let’s take Scripps Ranch during San Diego County’s Cedar fire. 300+ homes lost. I’ve got all the stats on the construction types. Prior to the fire, homeowner associations insisted that residents maintain shake-shingle roofs on their homes. You know that one house on the corner of Pinecastle Street that survived unburned in the midst of dozens of destroyed structures? An effective fuel break? No. The owner fought with the homeowner association for a very long time to allow him to replace his shake-shingle roof with a fire safe one. He finally did it over their objections. Two other homes survived a block away because a couple homeowners returned after being evacuated, kicking over burning wooden fences that acted like fuses leading to the buildings.

Was the roof the only reason that home survived? The way we approach this question appears to be one of the main differences in our analysis. I don’t know if the roof was solely responsible, but it sure helped. It’s all part of the total tool box.

10/11 Lori

If you or anyone gets a good answer to the Public Safety Officer issue
please let me know. It is easy to assume that just because you did the
job (FF/LE) you are one. It still says "Forestry Tech" (which includes
recreation, etc) so would one be recognized as PSO by the IRS,
"seamlessly", I don't know.

I will list off your points to my Tax Man at tax time but I would sure like
to have something in writing that would back me (us) up.

Feel free to contact me directly.

rbbrower @ juno.com (take out spaces)

10/11 The 24 hour Blue Sheet report was out yesterday on the dozer rollover fatality. I posted it on the hotlist.


10/11 Rick,

Even as forestry techs, if you die in the line of duty, you are considered a
public safety officer, so I would say yes to your question. The fact that you
have a firefighters retirement should be enough proof right there.

I read the tax booklet concerning this issue with great interest as it affects
me also, something that I was not aware of! A big thanks to whomever
pointed it out on their post (sorry, I can't remember who alerted us to
this fact).

I plan on asking my tax preparer if this indeed does apply to us - I would
suggest you do the same. If you do your own taxes, call the IRS and ask
them. I would like to hear what they have to say....


10/11 Maybe Casey Judd or someone can help with an answer?

Do Forest Service "Forestry Tech. 462" who are under fire fighter
retirement qualify as Public Safety Officers?

As a retiree form 26 years in fire as a "Forestry Tech. 462" I don't know
if the I will be able to convince the Tax Man that I was a Public Safety
Officer, my PD says "Forestry Tech."

The all important reason is that I should be able to have my insurance
premium taken out pre-tax as a retiree (fire/LE only).

It seems to be a confusing issue and the 2007 tax guide is not out yet,
AND, will it identify the issue?

Most folks I contact say, You should qualify, but I just don't have the
facts and have never seen anything pertaining to the subject in writing.


10/11 Guns-n-hoses,

Congrats on finishing FLETC.... Latch on to the old "Forestry" and "Range" technicians who moved into the LE&I world. They are some of the best leaders. Forget those of us in the wildland or "Forestry" programs who don't realize changes that happen.

FS LE&I doesn't have the recruitment and retention issues that much of the Forest Service has with other program and mission areas.

You seem to have it...... a goal for the mission, and a goal to look forward as the mission changes while continuing to ensure.... "Caring for the land, serving people".

While the mission may seem vague to many, the mission hasn't changed.... It is pretty straight forward to many others who stayed around in duress, through either AD, contracting, public service, or a change in "federal" jobs to ensure their calling was fulfilled...... It has never been rocket science.

What many refer to as "mission drift" can be often times explained as "mission focus".

The folks who have changed year after year have been the political appointees.... hint hint** wink **wink***Any problems seen with political appointees leading a program area? The folks on the end of the stick rarely change.

"Caring for the Land, Serving People" has never changed since the Gifford Pinchot and John Muir debates long ago. History always repeats until the lessons learned are heard. One agency went towards the "greatest good" while another agency went towards "preservation".

Middle ground anywhere to be found?

10/10 To Aberdeen re outsourcing:

I've been in touch with NFFE's outsourcing guru who I have worked with collectively to educate congress on the Forest Service' efforts to circumvent congress' intent to leave fire & collateral fire occupations alone with respect to outsourcing.

As you may know there is current language in both the House & Senate Interior Appropriations bills that "defunds" the FS study monster. Unfortunately Congress is still dilly dallying with the bills. However both the NFFE rep and I have been in contact with staff from Senator Feinstein's office. Senator Feinstein is Chairwoman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee and I am pleased she is aware both the FWFSA & NFFE are on the same page on the issue and that she supports our position.

Additionally, our legislative package will include language that amends Title 10 USC section 2465 which currently prohibits contracting out federal firefighter positions in DoD except in very limited situation, namely base closure actions.

We tried in 2003 to get the IAFF to support amending the contracting out prohibition to include firefighters and certain folks who support fire from the Dept. of Interior and Dept. of Agriculture but the IAFF didn't want to "open a can of worms." Frankly if the law calls for a prohibition on contracting out federal firefighters of DoD with the exception of limited situations, the law should be inclusive of ALL federal firefighters whether they be Interior, Ag, VA, NIH, Coast Guard etc.

So, the FWFSA & NFFE will continue to work collectively to see that fire & fire support functions are left alone with respect to outsourcing.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
10/10 Flight Nurse Jodie,

I too think you are missing the point. I do not think that forest service firefighters want to take over for EMS, but rather be ready (in training, equipment and protocols) to provide assistance when necessary. On the fire line, on a remote project or incident, or just driving down the road, we are oftentimes the only resource available. So what is wrong with having the equipment and training to provide lifesaving treatment until the ALS EMS can arrive? In my region I have been pushing a Medical Direction/SOP/Protocols for the last three years for all EMTs.

I have maintained my NREMT/EMTB certification for 10 years on my own and most of the EMT's I work with in the field do the same. It is difficult but not impossible. I know of only a few EMT-i's and Paramedics in the federal wildland service, usually their skill level allows them better opportunities off the fire line.

I don't particularly want congress to fund a national medical program, but I do want them and the Forest Service to realize that we are out in the field, doing the job with little to no support and with no consistency in our program. It would be nice to be included, appreciated and to be able to take time while on the job to maintain certification and train. Some crews make an effort to help EMTs out, most don't.

My own FS/NPS crew is very fortunate. The FS side plays the same old broken record 'We have no money', but the NPS has supplied us with some excellent equipment and training. Our lead crew on the Park side is also an EMT and very proactive. We have AEDs at our base and another on our chase truck. We have trauma bags and equipment that we have built from our own personal stocks, the Park, and oftentimes from local fire departments that help us out. And we train with it.

In R-4, Yellowstone Helitack and Jackson Helitack are two crews that are called upon for SAR duties and have done so numerous times in the past. Both run capable, professional programs with very good helicopters and crews.

As the Forest Service moves into the future, responding to natural disasters, incidents, fires or just assisting the public, we will see a greater need for EMTs in our crews to not only care of our own, but everyone.

10/10 Heat on volunteer firefighters
The link to the Washington Times is, washingtontimes.com/article

As a long time Volunteer and now a paid Chief in a combination Dept., The IAAF
has done good things for all F/F's. But here is another glaring example of "Follow
the money trail".

Do I trust the IAFF ? Nope. Too many horror stories of" Hi, I'm from the Union and
I'm here to help."


10/10 Flight Nurse Jodie;

Nice point of view. However, I don't believe many wildland firefighters want to be or are trying to become paramedics as I think you imply. Most are happy at the EMT and first responder level. The original intent was to take care of our own folks and assist local fire and EMS agencies as a closest responder. Help provide a size-up/assessment, stabilize, and assist in treatment. No more, no less. Many years ago on the ANF, their were rumors that we were transporting patients in ambulances.....

A question to the naysayers, what happens when you have a family member ill at a gov't residence (if there are any still around) and a green eng is 50 feet away and county fire is 50 minutes away. Do you say "Sorry, not in my job description".

Former Green soldier

10/10 Ab-

For years now there has been folks talking about
starting a new "Federal Wild land Fire" agency, and,
finally, separating from direct land management
influence and/or control.

Now to throw in my 5 cents...

While there are many arguments for this move and
issues that would hinder it, there is already a
Federal role model for this in place: Alaska Fire
Service. They don't own any of the land they manage.
They are technically still "connected" to the BLM /
DOI. However, take a look at their mission statement
at: http://fire.ak.blm.gov/afs/ and you will see that
they provide a "service."

Like any role model, AFS isn't perfect (they still
have funding issues just like any other agency) and
they have struggled with their roles and
responsibilities. But it can be done....am I wrong?

10/10 Possible criminal charges against a volunteer firefighter in Canada.


10/10 There is a new ad featuring a fully certified potable water tender and a very nice 12 sink hand-wash trailer on the Classifieds Page. Check it out. OA
10/10 Ab,

I would like to encourage people to support Ken Perry, a brother smokejumper, as he runs to raise money for the WFF in the Sahara Desert .

Recently, my daughter lost her life on a fire in Idaho . A number of folks have called friends and family regarding sending flowers. Anyone who wishes, please send a monetary donation supporting Ken and “Remembering Kel”. Kellie would have wanted to support such a great organization such as the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Their help and support to me and my family has been beyond description.

Jim Klump and Family

Our condolences for your and your family's loss. Ab.

10/10 A PUBLIC CELEBRATION OF LIFE for Kellie Klump will be
held on Oct. 27th at 1:pm at the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds in the
Winema Hall. (Yreka, CA)

Kellie was the daughter of Jim Klump retired Division Chief from the
Plumas N.F. Kellie was working with her father in his fire suppression
business (UNI-ENGINE ) on the Gray's Creek Fire in Idaho when
on Sept.9 she fell victim to a murder, suicide in fire camp.

Jim his family, friends and co-workers will gather for this celebration
with lunch following at the fairgrounds.

Any questions please contact me at 530-226-9591 or E-Mail me at
hanrahanfire @ hotmail.com (take out the spaces)

Thank you
Jim Hanrahan
Celebration Coordinator
10/10 Let's recap:
1) Different regions are different, thanks I didn't know that.
2) The missions in different regions are different, wrong!

Look at the bottom of your letterhead:
"Caring for the land and serving people"
Bottom line is the people in different areas expect different things, they have different needs, that's why congress has representatives for different areas and population groups. They elect the reps and tell Uncle Sam what they want/need in the collective and Uncle Sam tells us what to do. When we complete the task/mission "Caring for the land and serving people" he signs our paycheck. Therefore he gets to tell us what to do, if it means aglearn, so be it, if it means moving to New Mexico, so be it. If we disagree with the way Uncle Sam is doing business we can try to give him advice via Casey, ourselves or other means as necessary. Everyday I pray he will take the advice Casey gives him and in the meantime I will continue to care for the land and serve the people on it. The people on and around the forest I decided (yes decided, I wasn't drafted) to work on, expect me to assist (the key here, even in R5, is assist; medicals and so forth is local gov's responsibility no matter how you look at it, we assist) the local government when they need it. Uncle Sam expects me to serve them, that's what I do. I believe our time and energy could be better spent keeping people like Casey in the loop on what our needs are so he can continue to keep Uncle Sam in the loop, instead of bickering over how our jobs differ over this diverse landscape.

Previously "DS"
Dutiful Servant
10/10 re: union vs volunteers

Washington Times had a piece this morning on the IAFF using Congress to
go after volunteer fire departments, which has been brought up earlier
in TheySaid. While it may not have a direct effect on federal wildland
firefighters, I think it should still be something we follow. It seems
to be a blatant attempt to guarantee union dues at the expense of most
small communities in this country and at the expense of choking off an
important pipeline of career firefighters of all forms.

Let's start at the beginning. First, I doubt that many communities use
volunteers as a way of getting around paying otherwise professional
firefighters. A city can't pay enough to have a chemist, heavy equipment
engineer, public affairs specialist, fire equipment specifications
developer, and fully ordained pastor on the fire department staff. I
have known people in all these professions who have volunteered simply
because they were reared to believe it is the right thing to do. I've
also known both wildland and structural firefighters who were able to
get their initial training and experience by being volunteers.

As for the quality of the departments, in my experience, the blend of
volunteers and career makes an ideal setting. The career side usually
boosts the training and equipment available for the whole department.
The volunteers contribute a certain esprit d' corps as well as vital
numbers to do the job. I was involved with one department where if all
the paid guys rolled on a call, there'd only be a dozen or so available
from all four houses. The volunteers provided the sheer numbers needed
for a working fire. Mutual aid? You guessed it -- they were mostly
volunteers in that area.

Let your congress folks know that this bill is a bad idea -- and when
you get the chance, go out and volunteer.

Still Out There ....

10/10 All Risk Point of View

Ab & All...

I've read a lot of various talking points concerning the FS Mission here, both Pro and Con. I think we would all agree that no FS Region is identical in what they do other than fight wildland fires. I know crews in R4 don't have an active ems role other than Basic First Aid & some EMT-B let alone any AEDs, "Trauma Bags" and "Airway Bags". The service I work for covers an area from north of Gardner Mt (including Yellowstone & Grand Teton NP), south to the Idaho/Utah state line, west to the Salmon/Challis NF, East to the Shoshone NF. I have worked with FS, BLM and NPS (Park Rangers do good EMS and Back Country Rescue) personnel on medical missions and have found all to be very dedicated to helping with the situation at the time. That being said, this summer on the wildland fires I was around, I didn't see many (none) Paramedics assigned to FS, BLM & NPS Engines or Hand Crews. Also I haven't seen or heard of any Smoke Jumpers jumping or Helitack Crews Rappelling into the back country of the region, to include the Mt/Idaho areas, to facilitate SAR/EMS Operations, its happened in other regions in recent years but not around here.

I think some people really don't understand what it takes to maintain a full time paramedic certification or even EMT-Intermediate certification. Besides the initial training (about 6 months after all the class room, clinical and probationary time) there's the Continuing Education requirements to keep certified, and then there's the Medical Direction/Protocol to establish and maintain. An EMT-B just can't stick an ET or EOA down a persons throat and call it ALS (Advanced Life Support) no matter how big his/her "Airway Bag" is much less start an IV and push some meds.

Besides the time it takes to field Certified Paramedic, or EMT-Intermediate you have to look at the cost of and maintain the training. The way things are going in our nation today, I don't think there are very many members of congress that will fund a program to get Full Time ALS nation wide in the land agencies, then again most politicians will promise anything for a vote and not follow through with action. I really admire and feel for all wildland firefighters after what I seen this summer but I reminded of an old cliché I heard years back "Nobody wants a Soldier til the Enemy is at the Gate", heard the same as applied to Firefighters & Law Enforcement. Other than that How bout those Yankees huh?...its a Shame.

Flight Nurse/Paramedic

10/10 The newest outsourcing effort???

MARKET RESEARCH SYNOPSIS: The U.S. Forest Service seeks to obtain market research information from sources capable and interested in providing contract services for specified wildland fire dispatch categories and components such as expanded dispatch, predictive services, personnel administrative services and air space coordination. The Agency is conducting this market research to determine the capacity and past experience of the private sector to perform wildland fire dispatch and related services. This market research is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as a commitment of any kind. Any information received may be used, in whole or in part, to develop the acquisition strategy for any resulting procurement(s). Responders will not be compensated for information provided, and are encouraged not to provide proprietary data or business-sensitive information, as any information received may be used by the Government and/or released to the public.

Sources interested in participating in this market research effort should complete the web-based form at http://fs.doi.dispatchmr.mainet.com/

Responses should be submitted on or before November 1, 2007.

Point of Contact: Robert Rinaldi, Assistant Director, Strategic Planning, Budget & Finance, Phone 202-205-1596, Fax 202-690-6006, Email: rrinaldi@fs.fed.us


10/10 Lobotomy, AK, ms, Young and Dumb, and all,

I also agree that all have made good points and all should be working together to try and fix the "problem" we, our agency has created by being good at doing our jobs and a whole lot more. Look at Katrina. People learned that if they needed something they should go to the "green pants." We as an agency are good at solving problems. In order for this debate to be settled, we need to work together.

I also see the benefits of being stovepiped directly as I decided to apply for and accepted a position as an LEO after being in fire for 6 years previous. The cut layers help out. I dont have to worry about my funding going away if I have to cite, investigate, or if I just plain Pi$$ off the district rangers. There is also a downside that you have to look at however. As an agency employee who does not answer to the district folks, there is also a bit of resentment.

  • "Why do you lock your office and not give anyone here a key?" Because I have to be able to protect the chain of custody of evidence and I have equipment that is sensitive, expensive and dangerous.
  • "Why do you get to take home your vehicle?" Because I have to be able to respond to potentially life threatening emergencies rapidly.
  • "You HAVE to write Joe-Bob a ticket!" I can not do that. I dont feel I have enough probable cause to hold it up if it goes to court. If you feel you do, then you can cite them if you are an FPO.

There is a disconnect that is honestly difficult to work with after being so close to many of the folks I worked with in the past. But I do it. I am able to articulate answers for just about anything but beware of the downfalls of the type of organization some are looking for.

I pride myself in doing my job and serving the overall mission of the Forest Service as well as the LE&I mission. I work hard and honestly I think I put in more time now then in fire. I average 10.5 hour days and i think that is a little low. I work odd hours and odd days off. My Fridays and Saturdays start at 1 PM and go till at least 9, but usually till midnight or early the next morning. In my job now I am the bad guy in a small town where a firefighter is good, so I dont tell many initially what I do.

There are some of the same issues in my new line of work. I am in a vehicle with red and blue lights, a siren, a few guns, a radio, and a whole lot more. I am expected by the public to help out no matter what. I work with deputies that help me out and I am very limited in my ability to help them out. And i can very easily get sued for messing up. If I am helping out someone out of my area or doing something I am not officially trained to do, I am not "Scoped" and not going to be backed by the agency. But I dont depend on that anyways. I just work hard, stay within the grey lines, and do what i can with what I am provided. I remember that I took an oath to uphold the constitution. An LEO is unique because we have to power to deprive rights and have to make split second decisions as to take a life to stop a threat.

That being said, I love what i do now and I am always trying to incorporate fire into what I do. I use my fire training a little every day by maintaining SA and mitigating hazards and risks (I mean honestly, I think Body Armor is a mitigation!!!). I love the team aspect of fire and that is why I will never lose touch with where i started.

So as my initial paragraph stated, work together to make a solution. Southern California is not the whole world, but neither is Alaska or Montana. I know because I am fortunate enough to have worked in or work in all 3 in my short career. There is however a happy medium. Find it together, put a well thought out presentation together (Casey may be able to help this out as he is well versed that working through our issues) and present it respectfully to the powers that be. Strive to get to a position that better allows you to create, alter, and eliminate policies.

I am sorry if the post jumps back and forth a bit. Keep up the good fight and succeed. Be high speed, low drag. Git er done!!



10/9 Ab & All,

Weighing in on the mission topic. I’m inclined to agree with ms’s general perspective. I think the Forest Service has been trying hard to ignore this issue in recent years.

Some people have argued here that providing medical assistance is not our mission. One lesson I have learned from many years working in the woods is that employees and private citizens get injured sometimes. Waiting for a hospital Life Flight or military medivac can add a significant extra amount of time to a backcountry rescue (the golden hour). The people who can provide basic first aid and begin transport of patients will almost always be the first ones called out of pure necessity, regardless of what uniform they wear, regardless of whether the patient is an employee or not.

If you have ever worked on a USFS exclusive use helitack crew, you have probably participated in medivacs. The jumpers, especially North Cascades and West Yellowstone jumpers, have probably facilitated the extrication of hundreds of injured people over the years. I would be willing to bet that USFS employees nationwide participate in hundreds of rescues/medivacs every year.

On nearly every large long-duration fire, and many smaller ones, injuries occur which require medical attention and transport. It is usually one of the assigned exclusive use helicopter modules that gets tasked with medivac missions. But reimbursement for EMT training and extra pay for qualified EMTs on these crews is not allowed. In spite of this, there are still quite a few good helitack people around who are willing to serve as EMTs when the need arises.

The USFS takes advantage of this situation and unfairly exploits the willingness and skills of EMT qualified employees. I was formerly an EMT and have personally participated in dozens of medivacs and rescues during my fire career, but it has never been in my job description.

For the same reasons we won’t pay for EMT training, wages and equipment, the USFS doesn’t even have an approved method for extricating our own severely injured personnel. For instance, on the Cramer Fire, an injured hotshot was flown out in a cargo net on a longline because no better extrication system was readily available. I frankly think that is shameful for an outfit that was once known for taking care of our own.

I feel that an organization such as the Forest Service, which regularly deals with seriously injured employees and various back-country medical emergencies involving private citizens, ought to acknowledge that we have a responsibility to do more than just cobble something together when these events occur. And we ought to properly train/equip/pay our people who provide these invaluable services to our own people and the citizens who recreate and work on our public lands.

Misery Whip

10/9 Ab and company

Southern Calif is not like Northern Calif and neither of them are like Alaska or the Northern Rockies. And none of these are anything like the Midwest. (Last week did anyone notice the red flag warning for northern Illinois? USFS Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is home to the Midewin Hotshots.) Over the years I have lived and worked in New York, Missouri, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming and Minnesota. Wildland Fire job for Wildland fire job the feds paid better and were more stable employers than State agencies. And Rural Fire Districts are predominately volunteer organizations that provide fire suppression services and EMS. In these places EMS and search & rescue are legislated to county and municipal government. As such any expansion of federal government into this arena would be duplication of services.

What I’m getting at here (and others such as AK Oldtimer, Young and Dumb, and JerseyBoy) is that the federal land management agencies in California have circumstances and issues some of which are national and some that are regional at best. Unfortunately this is leading us to a conundrum. And that is: “National” organizations (USFS, BLM, NPS, FWS, BIA) have a regional problem. Do to their “National” scope any solution will need to be a “National” solution. (The regional foresters/directors can only do so much without National changes which will include legislation.) And “National” solutions to regional problems tend to maximize unintended consequences. Look at IFPM (Even ignoring the 401 education stuff) its one size does not fit many very well.

There are places where to have a successful wildland fire IA operation you would need 24 hours staffing. Most places you would not.

There are places where the public good would be enhanced by federal land management agencies providing all risk IA response (different than extended response to hurricanes earthquakes). Most places this would be redundant and more expensive.

Our challenge is to find solutions for some of the places, that do not adversely effect most of the places.

Proud to be a Small Agency FMO where “Captains” command ships, “Engineers” design things and “Battalion Commanders” direct army units.
10/9 To Cal Proud, I think it funny that you state how proud we are here in R5 but we are losing people faster than we can bring them in. Doesn't sound like a group of proud individules. I think the point that needs to be made is most of us want a fire organization ran by fire folks, and even with are own organization things will be ran differently in different places. We can't expect everything to be ran the same across the board. Yes Cal proud you do have a different beast in So Cal but what works there won't work in Alaska. Look at different city departments not all of them are ran the same and you can't expect them to be because things are different where ever you go. Remember when your asked to respond to accidents other areas are tasked to go clear trails and do other assignment. So enough with the mud slinging and realize what works for you doesn't always work for others.


Please keep this about "the what not the who." Ab.

10/9 To All:

Six members of the California congressional delegation have yet to receive a reply from the Forest Service regarding their recent letter addressed to FS Chief Gail Kimbell and Angeles National Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron stating numerous concerns about staffing & preparedness levels; the exodus to CAL-FIRE and other issues raised by Southern California federal wildland firefighters.

Several of those congressional offices informed the FWFSA this afternoon that it is probably time to "remind" the Agency that members of Congress expect answers to both short and long-term problems facing federal wildland firefighters who live & work in their congressional districts sooner rather than later.

It would seem unlikely that the Agency would provide its response to its employees so when something is received in DC we'll make sure folks have a chance to see it and offer comments on it.

By the way AB, I too don't think a separate federal fire service under DHS/FEMA would be the answer although they likely have far more $$ to waste than the land management agencies. My commentary to OMB, Congress and others is that if a separate agency is created, the pitfalls of DHS & FEMA would have to be avoided.

Even within the FWFSA there are those on each side of the idea. While I think a sincere look at such a plan for a stand alone agency would be worthwhile, I believe our federal wildland firefighters need relief NOW from archaic pay & personnel policies and legislative fixes to those would be probably more practical to achieve in the relative short term than creating a new agency.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
10/9 JerseyBoy,

I don't want to jump in the middle here so I will only give a short post. You make some excellent points.

Just a few months ago, a Forest Service Hotshot Crew received great thanks for their work on a multi-casualty incident (MCI) within the City of Los Angeles while returning home from the Zaca Fire. LAFD has a post referring to the crew as being from the SBCoFD on their press release website....... LOL.

That same Hotshot crew was involved in the treatment of another MCI... this time, agency employees. Lessons Learned from 1987.

I would hope that someday...... a Hotshot crew returning home from a hypothetical fire on the Glacier NP who stumble upon something while "Caring for the Land, Serving People"..... actually realize that Serving People is the foundation of being a wildland firefighter.

Hotshot buggies, wildland engines, and WCT administrators with AEDs (Etc....)...... Is there a need?.... Lessons Learned from the past that some folks will always remember, while some others forget. All great changes have come due to losses within and a goal of better treatment of our employees and their family.

I'm still not sold on a wildland fire service..... I am sold on wildland firefighters being the leaders and policy makers for the wildland fire program, and answering directly to the Chief of the Forest Service much like the LE&I program. It cuts away layers of "line authority". In effect, it gives the Director of Fire and Aviation Management direct "line authority" from the Chief

There was only one program area in the Forest Service over the last two years to get significant budget increases... law enforcement. It has been a long term battle for them since they were "Forestry Technicians Carrying Guns". At some point, folks actually realized they (LEOs) had specialized positions and needed to be funded to accomplish their mission.... within the overall mission. Years ago, they were properly classified in their series...... and still serve the Forest Service and the mission.

10/9 Abs,
It's with great regret that I pass on to you the death of San Diego Firefighter Jerrett Baker. Jerrett was killed in a single vehicle accident over the weekend.

I'm sharing this information with you because Jerrett worked in the past at the Valley Center Fire Protection District and for CAL FIRE in the Riverside Ranger Unit as a Firefighter/Paramedic. There may be those here who know Jerrett or can pass info on to those who do.

The funeral services will be Friday the 12th at 11AM. They will be at Moonlight State Beach at the foot of Encinitas Boulevard off of I-5. Meet at the west end of Encinitas Blvd. at 10AM.

Class B Uniforms

Reception following at:
The Pacific Coast Grill
437 S. Hwy 101
Solana Beach, CA

Sorry, that's all I have. Feel free to pass on any email you receive and I'll try to answer any specific questions that come my way.

John Fisher

Condolences. Ab.

10/9 Mitigator

Please understand I was not complaining about the Sunrise fuel break. I was just pointing out that the only time the breaks here seem to be "cleaned" is when there is a fire and the bosses put the "Big Yellow McCleod's" in the breaks to clean them. The Banner fire gave an opportunity for some of that; just as many fires on MVU/CNF over the years have seen dozers cleaning breaks, as contingency line, miles from the fire itself. Good!

When the Angel broke that is where the heavy stuff went; more work on the break. Good. Just wish each spring all the breaks could be cleaned to bare dirt or whatever is the best practice for the particular area/break.

10/9 LODD

Matt Will, you will be missed as I take off my hat and as we drink a pint
thinking of you and your wonderful family. We will miss you, brother.

Mike, Karl and Dan

10/9 A Message From the Director

It is with heartfelt sympathy that I send this message -

CAL FIRE Line of Duty Death -

Matthew Richard Will, a heavy fire equipment operator with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), died this morning as the result of a bulldozer rollover in Monterey County yesterday afternoon. Will, 30, was battling the Colorado Fire in Monterey County on Monday, Oct. 8, 2007, when his bulldozer overturned. He was airlifted to San Jose Regional Medical Center for treatment and died this morning from injuries sustained in the rollover.

Will, a resident of Hollister, was assigned to Hollister Air Attack Base in the San Benito Monterey Unit. He started with CAL FIRE, then known as CDF, on May 19, 2003, as a heavy fire equipment operator. He recently graduated from the department’s fire academy in Ione.

Immediate survivors include his wife, Diana Will, his son Trysten, 10, and daughter Elsie, 8.

Authorization is granted for shrouding of all badges for uniform personnel and the continuance of flags at half staff at all department facilities in remembrance of Matthew Will.

Additional information will be forthcoming from CAL FIRE as it develops.

Ruben Grijalva, Chief
Department of Forestry & Fire Protection
Office of the Director

Sent in by
Matt Streck
Tim Chavez
Norm Silver
and others.

Thanks to all. Ab.

10/9 To MOC4546 & TC & AK Old Timer:


You ought to email me some time at cjudd@fwfsa.org. I'd love to find out who you are! Your insight is right on point although I don't think Vinnie had much of a hand in my 2003 election loss for IAFF 16th district VP by a mere 21 votes nationally including Canada.

It was more current IAFF Chief of Staff & former 16th district VP Mike Crouse who, undoubtedly with the approval of Harold, worked behind the scenes to maintain the status quo in the 16th district and on the IAFF Executive Board by working to defeat me. In fact, the evening before the ballots were counted, Mr. Crouse spelled his actions out to me while current CPF 5th District VP Mike Massone listened. By the way, how is Mike doing for the 5th district?

I also should point out that the IAFF can't give a position to someone although there were enough shenanigans with the election to warrant a Dept. of Labor investigation. HOWEVER, that being said, in hindsight I am in a MUCH better place and I don't have to deal with the internal political union BS. I miss a lot of folks and don't have any regrets for trying to elevate the feds in the IAFF mix but I love what I'm doing now.

To TC:

I don't think anyone on They Said was suggesting literally that the FS has no mission. We all know what has been printed and what you referred to in your post. But if you look closely & read it closely it is a statement, or a mission that the FS has produced to satisfy the USDA, the Administration, Congress etc. The fire part you reference is great but it is vague and ambiguous, probably because it was written by folks who haven't had a day on a fire line in their FS career.

Its the details of where the fire program is going that I think firefighters want to know, not the nebulous, bureaucratic statement which seems to satisfy everyone...except the employees that do the job.

To AK Old Timer;

I don't mind disagreement on the budget stuff. There is so much smoke & mirrors going on its hard to decipher what is really fact or fiction. I base my comments on numerous conversations with members of Congress & their staff; our members who are Type 1 ICs, FMOs, and others who know a thing or two about what money should be coming to them that actually shows up.

Regional FAM Directors have also candidly pointed out the flow of $$ away from its intended target of preparedness & fuels and so when I look at either the Administration's budget proposal or appropriations bills from Congress which are obviously higher than the Administration's proposals, I see ample dollars being authorized and appropriated by Congress. I also see numerous examples of those dollars being misused, diverted etc, which from a certain perspective can appear to mean budgets are dropping when in fact the money is actually there, its just being used for something other than its intended purpose.

I am thrilled to finally hear from one person who has had a successful experience with the Albuquerque Service Center. I guess now we know what hundreds of millions of dollars siphoned from the fire preparedness & fuels budgets can buy...(tongue in cheek sort of...)


Casey, I know folks who have worked on the FS direction, who have written and rewritten manuals and other documents and I think they're working with all due diligence and integrity. Whether fire will continue under the Departments of Agriculture and Interior, I think is still uncertain for the long term, in my opinion. OA and I talk about what fire would be like under DHS. Best case scenario it would be streamlined and focused with the money flow clear and accountable. At worst it would be another bureaucracy with all the same pitfalls. Nice comments and questions AK Old Timer. Ab.

10/9 Kerr, Ab,

In reply to Jim Hart, thank you for sharing your view. The actions homeowners, firefighters and fuels management personnel took allowed firefighters the safety edge to work their craft to a successful conclusion on both the Angel and Banner Fires. Yes HT, we did put dozers on the fuelbreak to further improve our tactical situation. It sure helped. Fuel breaks are a critical part of fire mitigation and not an isolated success story. A few of the most recent additional examples, during the Otay Fire, the International Fuel Break held unsupported for nearly two hours, until ultimately defeated by an incomplete section of the fuelbreak near the previous 1996 Otay 322 fire. The Community Fuel Break supported by fire fighters at Poppet Flats proved successful in the Esperanza Fire. The list could go on and on. I am often frustrated and puzzled by the position that a fuelbreak is a bad thing, because it impacts the environment, yet the existence of fuel breaks saves huge areas of environment, and the lack of a maintained fuel break can result in the wiping out of huge areas of beautiful landscape in their present state.

Our efforts under the San Diego County ordinance allowed us enforcement authority to create the required 100' vegetation maintenance in the Campo community. The Border 16 Fire started behind a Mexican Rancho and burned on prevailing winds thru the Canyon City area amongst 15 homes. One, vacant and untreated home, burned to the ground. The rest were safely protected by firefighters because of the previous fire mitigation efforts. Strong evidence that the 100' vegetation maintenance plan is effective for saving structures and for firefighter safety.

Regarding the discussion on what are defined as weeds, or non-natives, there are 'weeds' throughout our eco-system. Throughout my study and experience with the environment, I've come to learn that humans can only successfully battle new comer species. There is little money, interest, hope or time to eradicate the Mediterranean species that have been in the local environment at least since 1769, although some believe earlier than that date. So I modified my view to accepting those long entrenched plants with their values and uses as a part of the natural landscape as it has evolved over the centuries. At this stage of my career to pull my hair out or support the waste of resources over something that can't be changed would prove of little benefit.

Firefighter Safety. This I could write volumes on, as it is a particular interest of mine. Let me say that the automobile you drive, The Gusset plate/gang nail connectors that are used in roof truss assemblies, the Bow String truss seen in older buildings, unprotected steel structures all share a theme similar to your concerns. None of them were engineered for firefighter safety. To say a structure shouldn't be built because it may hurt a firefighter someday is clearly not an valid argument, nor productive to positive change. Building into code the necessary elements for structure safety and supporting vegetation management efforts around structures are what will be productive in the long term safety for homeowners and firefighters.

Let's take this further, but let me not use the Esperanza example as it is still painful to some. As I understand you, because a firefighter was hurt or killed qualifies private property as being unfit for construction. As you propose just because someone owns or purchases property in the wildlands doesn't mean they should be allowed to build on it. This action dramatically drops the monetary value of the land, then making it suitable for acquisition as habitat, is that your actual goal?

So does that mean that construction should be legislated out in Malibu where Glendale and LA City firefighters were burned? Or La Habra Heights where LA County Firefighters were overcome and Killed? Or...would you say that Houses shouldn't be allowed to be built in areas that suffer wildland fires such as Hollywood, Topanga, Calabasas, Normal Heights, Harbison Canyon, Julian, etc.? May I infer that conversely the same logic might apply to Wildlands, those areas that burn must be kept safe for firefighters for example Inaja, Hauser Canyon?

In closing, I cherish the environment we have and see co-existence as an option, I want to see codes enforced for vegetation management around homes and escape roads. I desire FireSafe/FireWise construction. I want firefighters trained to recognize when to stay or go. 53% of San Diego County is protected as habitat (SANDAG) and we're acquiring more. Something I want to protect using all the tools in the firefighter toolbox.


Mitigator, I will assume you do not yet know JimHart's orientation and contributions. I can assure you that it is not his goal to make land "suitable for acquisition as habitat". Ab.

10/9 Seems some talk of lack of a Forest Service mission. Actually there is a
clearly defined mission. Check out the Forest Service Strategic Plan FY
2007-2012. A 38 page that lays out the groundwork of where the agency is



This document clearly defines the Mission as:

"Sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations."

And Values as:

"• Cares for the Nation’s forest and grassland ecosystems.

• Values the varied skills and contributions of a diverse workforce.

• Strives for accountability by every employee for the efficient management of the capital resources he or she uses.

• Is responsive to national and local interests.

• Is focused on the needs of future generations."

Some other quotes specifically to do with fire:

"Increasingly diverse urban populations are losing their awareness and knowledge of the natural systems on which they depend. The Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), must connect with and educate these citizens to expand their understanding of the links between people, the way they live, and the natural settings within which they live.

With increasingly urbanized landscapes, emergency response—including fighting wildland fires—becomes more complex and challenging. Along with our partners, the Forest Service is committed to maintaining and fielding a safe, effective response organization that can be mobilized for managing wildland fires or other national emergencies. We are jointly committed to reducing the loss of life and property and maintaining landscape values. Together, we will invest in the personnel, training, and equipment and provide leadership commensurate with those responsibilities."

"We will continue our commitment to reducing threats to the Nation’s forests and grass­lands. These threats include (1) the risk of loss from catastrophic wildland fire caused by hazardous fuel buildup;"

"• Develop and apply detection, prediction, prevention, mitigation, treatment, and restoration methods, technologies, and strategies for addressing disturbances (e.g., wildfire, pests, extreme events).

• Provide technical and financial assistance to communities to reduce their risk from wildfire through neighborhood preparation, prevention, education, increased fire suppression self-sufficiency, and community wildfire protection plans.

• Improve firefighting training programs for the safe, efficient, and effective initial attack and suppression of wildfire."

Thanks for educating us. I know this process has been going on fairly recently (within the last year) as manuals and other publications have been rewritten. Ab.

10/9 Dear Ab,

Can you please post the following:

It is with great sadness to inform you that HFEO Matt Will of the San Benito-Monterey Unit has passed away this morning from the injuries he sustained during the roll-over of D-4645 on the Colorado Fire located in Monterey County. Please keep your thoughts and prayers with Matt and his family as they cope with this difficult time.

This is confirmed through our CAL FIRE command center and has been released to the Unit.

If you could post this. I would appreciate it.
Thank You

Condolences to friends and family. Hotlist thread Ab.
10/9 Dick:

Well I don't think I have to worry about burning any bridges with the IAFF in my response to your post considering I have likely not only burned them but entirely obliterated them.

The bill referenced in the article has been the IAFF's # 1 legislative priority for probably a decade. Under a Republican Congress, the bill garnered a significant number of cosponsors in the past, in fact I think during one session of Congress it had over half the House on board as cosponsors. However under a Republican majority since 1994, the legislation went nowhere.

With the majority taken over by the Democrats last November, the likelihood the bill would get a bit further such as passing the House was greater. The Senate is a tougher nut to crack & certainly Bush would never sign such a bill and I doubt there would be enough votes to override any veto. Thus, while the bill has passed the House, since Bush will be in office through the end of this congressional session, more likely than not the IAFF will have to start all over again in early 2009, hopeful the Democrats will control both Congress & the Administration.

Now to the issue of volunteering and its impact on a federal wildland fire service.

I was in attendance at the IAFF Biennial convention when resolutions banning IAFF members from volunteering were debated. Candidly, I don't think anyone who is familiar with the inner workings of the IAFF, or for that matter many international labor unions could dispute the assertions as far as motive in the article. Let's face it, the IAFF wants to organize every fire department, SEIU wants to organize the universe etc. It translates to $$ which in turn is supposed to translate into power. Sometimes that power is abused.

Federal wildland firefighters who are employees of the five federal land management agencies are not represented by the IAFF in any capacity. I believe the majority, if not all are represented by the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) which is an affiliate of The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO/CLC for issues that can be bargained. Unlike State & local firefighters' pay & benefits which the IAFF successfully negotiates for across the country, pay & benefits are not negotiable for federal employees (inclusive of firefighters) pursuant to Title 5 USC. Therefore any incentive for this legislation to affect federal wildland firefighters would be moot.

As with most legislative initiatives sponsored by the IAFF in recent memory, I don't believe this legislation remotely targets even the IAFF's federal DoD firefighters because again, under Title 5, pay & benefits are not negotiable. Previous legislation that comes to mind that the IAFF sponsored for its state & municipal members but for which federal firefighters could not benefit from were the SAFER Act and the FIRE Act.

So I would venture a guess that if a stand-alone federal wildland fire service were ever created, those employees would still be covered under Title 5 of the United States Code. It's anyone's guess as to who would represent those employees for collective bargaining purposes for issues than can be negotiated.

Its kind of funny. When I was with the IAFF we were all taught that volunteers were bad...they took food off the table of career firefighters. We were taught that Republicans were bad and anti-labor. That perspective, in hindsight seems really to only apply to some national labor unions, which, with all due respect for what they do for their members, or the majority of their members, act more like bullies sometimes than anything else.

Shhh, hear that??? Another bridge blown to bits...

10/9 To So Cal FS and Proud,

I think it's awesome and really great that you folks do what you do, i.e. turnouts, SCBAs, running med calls, etc. But I think that you should follow your own advice to AK Old Timer and go to R10 or one of the low-population, high backcountry forests in R1 (which most of them are) and see what you think then. On the forests I've worked on there is absolutely no need to run with SCBAs and turnouts, just as (I'd imagine, correct me if I'm wrong) there's no need for you to roll with crosscut saws and 3 day packs (wilderness stuff) where you are at. I can honestly say that I have only used an engine on a fire once or twice (no or few roads to drive in on), and most of the time it's a hike in or fly in situation. And when fires aren't burning, we're usually out helping with recreation, silviculture, fuels, archeology, or maintenance projects.

So before you you start referring to those of us who are wildland firefighters in a a different setting as "rednecks," just remember that we face challenges on a daily basis that are vastly different than those faced in R5. I understand that you are proud to be called a firefighter; I personally think that only calling me a firefighter actually comes up short in describing my job. I help manage other resources too, IN ADDITION to being a firefighter during the summer, just as you do med calls IN ADDITION to being a wildland firefighter.

I respect what you guys do in SoCal, but I don't think that a lot of what you do is needed in other areas. Maybe one day, but not in the near future. Don't shoot me here, I'm just pointing out that you guys have a very unique set of challenges to face, as you described, and you are doing a good job of meeting them. Just don't assume the rest of the FS is like SoCal.


Young And Dumb

Good post and thanks for keeping this about "the what, not the who". NorCal isn't even like SoCal. Ab.

10/9 So Cal FS and proud:

There's no need to go around insulting people because they do a different job than you do.

What you're missing while tooting your own horn is that there are major differences between what you do and what others do while wearing the green of the FS - and neither is inherently "better" than the other. My 'shot crew would be worthless responding to a wreck on I-5 that sparked a brush fire. Likewise, bring your engine to Alaska or the Frank Church Wilderness and see how you do.

The idea that others in the FS are simpleton "rednecks" in the forestry dept. misses the point completely, and adds nothing to our discussion here. Those "rednecks" know an awful lot about local wildland fire - and beyond. Their forestry skills are actually USEFUL to the job they do, like your EMS skills are useful to your job.

The idea that we're not "proud" because we aren't called "Captain" or "Engineer" or "Battalian Commander" or what have you is absurd. When you're 100 miles from the nearest road in Alaska your bunker gear and SCBA equipment isn't work a darn. Just like my falling saw is dead weight when looking at a guy in pulseless electrical activity.

And I'm sure the AK oldtimer won't be driving past wrecks if he happens upon them. Just that he's not going to sit around waiting for an EMS call - he might see two or three of them over 20 years! All the training in the world and bars on his sleeve won't change his geography and demographics.

There are problems to be solved in the FS and calling names and implying that others aren't professional won't help matters.

10/9 Hotshot Crews info

Roosevelt IHC- Founded 2001 Kelley (Jones) Melott was the original Supt (01-03), now Chief 2 on Arapaho-Roosevelt.
Dave Hamrick- Unknown start, but was on Alpine before becoming Supt for Roosevelt from 2003 to 2006. Now North Zone FMO on the Arapaho-Roosevelt.


10/9 Carl Dolbeare-Tanker Pilot

It has been 4 years since my brother Carl died fighting the San Bernardino Valley
fire in Tanker-99 just after his 55th birthday. To all you Pilots who so bravely fly
into danger to save our homes and land, God Bless you all and may God guide
you and be The Wind Beneath your Wings.

Wayne L. Dolbeare

Wayne, I am sorry for your and our loss. I didn't know Karl, but by all accounts, he was a fine man. Readers, here's a pic of Carl from firepirates.com and a link to a little video (mov) file of T-99's take off. Ab.

10/9 Forest Service Mission

To ms:
I'm glad you agree that " Nowhere in the CFRs or Forest Service Manual allows us to do anything other than to fight wildfire (NPS does have some all-risk authorities within the park)." And I agree that we could do "much more good we could do for the public if this was within policy." I could also (proudly) stand in the "circle a football field with readers of this forum who can tell you story after story where they saved a life." (But only if you allow a Forester in the line!)

To JerseyBoy:
I think you're correct. I believe this is a R-5/California problem. R-5 is providing more services than they can afford and I believe, beyond the Forest Services's legal authorities. I always been told that "things are different in California". (We also make that claim about Alaska!)

To Casey:
I must respectfully disagree with you. Overall budgets are declining. And I see continuing declines in the future. The tax income just ain't equaling the spending out-flow! It's something we'll all have to live with. And, we're going to have to learn to live with (and use) the "white elephant in New Mexico". I didn't think much of Human Capitol consolidating in New Mexico. But last week, I used the EmpowerHR program for the first time to process 5 personnel actions. It took me a third of the time than it did in the past. Made a few clicks, typed in one line, and click I was done with each individual action. Very easy and painless. Maybe we're a little premature in our condemnation. Time will tell.

As far as consolidating wild-land fire into a "National Wild-land Emergency Services Agency", it will take an Act of Congress. Although the Forest Service is attempting to redefine itself and its mission, establishing another National Agency is well outside its legislative authorities. Plus, all the Interior Agencies will have to be included.

Should Congress ever decide to create a National Agency, just think of all the other issues that could be resolved at the same time. For example:

  • Eliminate the portal to portal issue - Just pay the employees like they pay the military....make them salaried employees paid by the month, subject to duty 24/7 and 365 days per year!
  • Hazard pay would be substituted for combat pay
  • Housing allowances could be provided
  • Family medical care could be included in the pay package
  • Everyone in the new agency would become "Professional Wild-land Firefighters or EMTs"

Some food for thought and discussion.

AK Old Timer

10/9 AK Old Timer,

I would love to invite you to come down to south zone and see what we have to deal with. Working on a busy highway that runs through my district and campgrounds, rec areas and lakes, we as the Forest Service FIREFIGHTERS respond to all calls in those areas. Down here it does not matter that we have a green engine the public sees the RED lights and FIRE and expect us wearing the uniform to provide an all risk level just like our partners in the red, yellow engines. We do run medical calls with the county depts. And they also run calls with us that what is call an mutual aid agreement. Yes we may have a year round fire season and carry turnouts and SCBAs in the back seat we also have full trauma bags and airway way bags. Does that make us different? Yes. But don’t you think that the rest of the FS may want to jump on the bandwagon instead of being known as those rednecks that work for that forestry dept. Why not be known as Firefighter, Engineer, Captain and be known for what you do and be proud like us in R-5.

So you’re saying that if there was a Traffic Accident on the side of the highway you would drive right by because that it would not be the proper use of WFPR funds. The is a thing called “DUTY TO ACT” saying if you have the training the means and the equipment you must provide emergency care. Read up on it may save you from a law suit someday.

As for letting EMS providers build stations on our land and let them do the entire EMS why don’t we build County Fire Stations out there too and let them take all of our jobs from us. We our a very proud agency here in R-5 for what we do I don’t know to many other FS stations that are in major metropolitan areas and respond with such agencies as LA CITY FIRE, LA COUNTY FIRE, VENTURA COUNTY FIRE ,SANTA BARBARA CITY AND COUNTY FIRE. As well as many others too many to list Look at our so cal wildcad websites www.wildcad.net look at what we go on then talk about it.

So Cal FS and proud
10/9 Disclaimer: This post represents MOC's opinion of individuals and of IAFF. This Ab has no knowledge or opinion other than to say that most departments in smaller towns and communities in the East, South, Midwest, etc are vollie and the hearts of their communities.

In response to Dick Mangan's question regarding Paid Firefighters not being allowed to volunteer as firefighters in their community.

Dick, the IAFF has been trying for the longest time to force volunteer fire departments out of business by forcing its career members not to volunteer if they have a paid career fire position. It has been a very hot contention item on the East Coast because of so many urban areas with large operating budgets, lots of stations, and many volunteers instead of career staff. Those communities they target may have a few paid staff, but they want these departments to be all career firefighters because that increases the dues they collect.

I am an IAFF member where I am a career firefighter, and I am a volunteer firefighter where I live. I know many wildland firefighters who do the same thing in their local communities out here in the California and the west, and with few exceptions no one has a problem with "two-hatters" so long as the paid job is not adversely affected by the volunteer job.

The IAFF Union represents career firefighters across the USA and Canada, and assist their members with negotiations of contracts, defending union members against unfair labor practices or punitive actions due to membership, and other duties that help protect firefighters in our local government agencies.

Personally, I think the IAFF President, Harold Schaightberger, is a real slimy character, and his Vice-President, Vince Bollon, is not much better. These guys defend their union members to the hilt if they get targeted by city leaders for union activities or when they call the cities into question when contracts are violated. But they want volunteers out of business across the country because "Volunteers take away possible career jobs from our members". They are UNION ALL THE WAY, and they feel that EVERYONE HAS TO BE UNION TO WORK! I vote against Schaightberger and Bollon every election after an IAFF federal representative died from a car accident shortly after an election, and rather than giving the position to the other challenger to the position Schaightberger and his cronies put in who they wanted, not who should have been selected.

When it comes to how I vote in a political election, Mr. Schaightberger can kiss my rear-end! He has no business telling me or anyone else what I can do off-duty. The IAFF is only interested in what will increase their membership, and creating new career positions by citing things like "public safety" and "2-In/2-Out" to the politicians.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) about 10 years ago mandated that in counties that they were contracted to provide fire protection in, such as Butte, Tehema, Riverside, Madera, Merced, and individual fire districts/departments, that their seasonal and permanent members could not be volunteers in the same Ranger Unit/County they worked in. Many counties had volunteers that served as seasonals during the fire season, and had to chose between volunteering and a paycheck. This did not apply if they worked in one Ranger Unit and lived in another Ranger Unit.

When they took this action volunteering dropped off dramatically from paid personnel. Part of the reason the IAFF and the CDF act this way was a court case in Pennsylvania where a firefighter who was both a paid and volunteer firefighter for the same department got into an argument with the Fire Chief about overtime and work he had done, he took it to court and won, costing the department over $100,000 in backpay to the firefighter. After that, many departments who had paid and volunteer firefighters said you can be one or the other, but not both. CDF took it one step further.

As a Federal firefighter, and having volunteered for two local government fire departments over the last 23 years, so long as my volunteering does not affect my career fire job, then there are no issues. If I get hurt volunteering then I could lose my paid fire job, but that is a risk I accept.

I know many firefighters who work for the US Forest Service and BLM who volunteer on their off-duty hours, and this is their choice and so long as the volunteering does not affect their paid job, the overhead have no say in what someone can do during off-duty hours, unless they want to pay a wildland firefighter to be on Standby for the whole summer.

Schaightberger has no business throwing the issue of "this affects our members under our Constitution". Where I volunteer there are paid and volunteer personnel working together, and it is none of the IAFF business where I or my brother and sister federal firefighters volunteer when off-duty, so long as it does not affect my ability to do my duties at my Career Job.

Anytime Schaightberger steps in and says to me "You can't volunteer because I say so as Union President", I hope he's prepared to step outside when he says that to my face, because although I am a union member, he can "suggest" what he wants me to do as an IAFF member, but he can't make me or anyone else. If he throws me out of the IAFF, my local union will still have to provide me with representation regardless if I am a member or not because the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights say I can vote for who I want in an election of any kind, say what I want with free speech, and associate with who I want.

The California Professional Firefighters, of which I am also a member, has some of the same kind of policies saying they don't what me or any other career firefighter to be volunteers because that costs jobs for paid firefighters. The California State Firefighters Association represents both volunteers and career firefighters on many issues, but does not restrict if I can be both paid and volunteer.

Out of 40 staffed positions where I work, only four of us are volunteers, and my Fire Chief has no issues with it. To him he benefits by the additional training and experience we bring to the job through our volunteering that cost him nothing.

The IAFF predominantly supports Democratic politicians who do their bidding for "contributions" to their campaign funds. But when it comes to individual rights that are attempting to be restricted because 'special interests' want a change, the individual right will always win out. And when such an action slips through, it can be challenged in court as a violation of civil rights.

My volunteer department has paid staff, but just for working hours during the day, and it is all volunteer at night. The paid staff responds as volunteers during night calls and do not receive overtime because they are salaried positions. The volunteers receive no moneys for their time except when responding to a State Responsibility Fire, or a State OES Strike Team assignment.

I have been a federal firefighter almost all of my paid career. None of my federal agencies, wildland or structural, have ever complained about my volunteering, or insisted that I have to quit because I am a federal firefighter. The only time I failed to come into work because of my volunteering was when I had to defend my own home from a local wildland fire, and I was late getting in to work. I had documented proof that my home was threatened, and the District FMO had no problem with that.

I am a strong believer in the Union for Firefighters, but sometimes they go too far in what they tell their members to do. What will they legislate next? What political party I can belong to? What church I can attend? What programs I watch or listen to? What I eat or drink?

The IAFF did not help out the FWFSA when they were associated with them, and had they put the political muscle they have exercised for local government firefighters, they might have added more than 10,000 federal wildland firefighters to their ranks of dues-paying members when we needed them.

If you volunteer in your community and are a full-time or seasonal federal wildland firefighter, you keep doing what makes you happy and serves your interests.


10/9 I just visited Ken Perry's website and was ashamed at how few folks had volunteered a few bucks for his hard work!

Best of luck Ken!

To stir the pot: How 'bout a few A-D hires that make lots of $$$ giving up just an hour or two of wages to join the 52 Club????? I mean, REALLY???

Tks Ab for the site,

TX Lobo
...unemployed, but still parting w/ the funds that help fallen firefighters......and NO UNEMPLOYMENT FOR ME !!!
...i've got a sugar daddy that has a "real" job.....not seasonal.

Ken's page

10/8 An interesting article about the firefighter's union (IAFF) trying to get Federal legislation
passed that would not allow paid career firefighters to work as volunteers on other
departments when off duty. Don't know how this would affect wildland folks if a Federal
Wildland fire Service ever evolved? Casey - any thoughts?


Dick Mangan
10/8 Dear AB & All:

I've debated for some time about entering the discussion about mission, a Forest Service Fire Dept., etc. As I've posted before, some in Congress as well as OMB have started to pose questions about what the mission is and should be in the future with respect to FIRE. There have been varying ideas and concepts in DC just as there have been here on They Said. However there is an overriding consensus in DC that FIRE, whether it remains with the land management agencies or becomes a separate & distinct entity or travels to a different bureaucracy is here to stay.

As some have said, both the public & Congress will not allow the agencies to regress on fire. In my opinion, the failure to bring the fire programs into the 21st century, whether that refers to EMS, pay & personnel policies etc., is based upon an outdated, archaic organizational structure led primarily by non-fire FS employees who, with all due respect know nothing about operating and managing a fire department.

Many of the problems associated with the fire programs, whether they be fiscal or otherwise have this basic fundamental fact as their foundation/core. Fire has become far more complex and dynamic than it was 30 years ago yet it is managed and approached with the same methodology as it was back then because those developing & implementing policy simply don't have the fire experience or expertise to recognize what is required in today's fire business.

The fact that there is even a debate/discussion about what the mission is and where it ought to go is indicative of the failure of the agencies to look to the future and develop a comprehensive plan. One thing I am certain of: if the agencies don't decide for themselves in short order what their plan is for their fire programs through the 21st century, Congress will do it for them. Furthermore, as they have begun to do, Congress will rely on you, the Nation's federal wildland firefighters to help develop such plans.

Therefore, to MS who I usually always agree with, at the end of the day, it does matter what you envision because it will be you who the public & Congress looks to for the solutions to the problems.

To AK Old Timer: I have consistently discounted the notion, often referred to by line officers and non-fire folks that limited & declining budgets exist. If a fire budget "declines", it isn't because Congress is reducing appropriated dollars, it is because the Agency leadership and line officers consistently misdirect, misuse, divert (whatever you want to call it) those funds Congress expects it to use for preparedness, fuels etc.

To illustrate this point, in recent testimony before Congress, Mark Rey of the USDA stated that "while preparedness allocations have been reduced, suppression funding is up." He might as well said "we skim hundreds of millions of dollars off the top of preparedness/fuels so we can fund the white elephant Service Center in New Mexico and pay for many other non-fire projects." The key to budgets is fiscal management, not fiscal mismanagement.

You also ask "Does Congress know how pre suppression funds are being spent?" Now they do courtesy of the FWFSA and I dare say they are far more willing to see such dollars go to paying for EMS supplies if the need arises than paying for non-fire projects.

This also illustrates just how disjointed and inconsistent the agencies are with respect to a mission. Heck, why is an engine captain in R3 a GS-7 but a GS-8 in R5? No consistency. The lack of consistency lends itself to a lack of vision for the mission.

To: My .02$: You ask "if employees are Forestry Techs (Range Techs too) why do they pay into the firefighter retirement?" The question really is, "these firefighters pay into the firefighter retirement so why are they not classified as firefighters?"

The short answer, non-fire folks at OPM & the Agencies make the policies. So, to change the policies, firefighters have to stand up and start being heard by those in Congress willing to reform the status quo.

Good grief, I'm rambling. Bottom line is all of you as federal wildland firefighters have the ability, and I think duty, to change business as usual. It takes hard work, perseverance, dedication and commitment. However if its worth attaining, its worth fighting for and this folks, is a fight which I intend to win.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
10/8 JerseyBoy,

Thank you, your perspective from outside of CA is correct and refreshing.

Uncle Louie
10/8 Regarding the Forest Service/Fire Service and the unemployment debate that has been going on:

What folks have to remember is that the world of California wildland fire is often VASTLY different from the rest of the Forest Service.

When I read about flashing lights and EMS calls, car wrecks and all-risk response, I am reminded that we did none of those things.

My experience comes from R4/R1/R9, mostly 'shot crew work, a bit of engine work here and there (and a season spent in dispatch while laid up for injury.) Now we had EMTs and first responders on our crew - but how many times did we use that training while not on a fire? Zero. Never an auto accident, never an EMS call. We had no lights on our trucks, and even though the engines in our area did, they never used 'em. Never a need to.

My experience was that of a forestry technician. When we weren't on fire, we did thinning projects, burns, and other forestry work. We'd do projects for every 'ologist on the forest - build fences, paint campgrounds, mark timber, plant trees. I even spent some time sorting aerial photos one year for a department I can't even remember. I had very little in common with a typical structure firefighter. Not that I couldn't have done that sort of work with the appropriate training, but there was simply no need. And there was no public expectation where I worked that we do that sort of thing. We were viewed as other Forest Service personnel - if someone was having a heart attack and flagged down our vehicle, they'd expect we'd have a radio and know how to do CPR, no different than a wildlife biologist or a recreation tech.

And from my experiences, this is what most of the Forest Service is like. California is unique in that there is a combination of year-round fire season, dense population, and professional fire services other than the Forest Service. And what's good for California might not be good for other parts of the country. There's simply no need for 24/7, year round coverage on the Salmon River breaks or in southern Indiana.

All of this, for the most part, worked very well. We'd show up in the spring, train a bit, then knock out fires all summer. The rain and snow would come and the fires would stop. As a 'shot crew we'd max out our 1039, bang 800-1000 or so OTs, and then for those that weren't in school, we'd work late season projects as mentioned above until funding ran out. Those with family obligations would take some of their annual leave that they had acquired over the course of the year, or LWOP (Leave Without Pay), and take a bit of a re-charge before coming back to finish out whatever work needed to be done. Unemployment was for when work ran out and you couldn't find ANOTHER job - framing houses, laying concrete, etc.

Sorry for the long post, but the reality is that the rest of the nation isn't California, and what might be beneficial there would be a gigantic waste of money in other places.


10/8 Links for reading about Sahara (Egypt) Ken's run, donating, and checking the pledge list are at the top right of this page. I encourage everyone to donate and/or pledge: sign up!

Original Ab helped Melissa (bottom photo; and her fundraising calf from the first Ken Perry run) set up their own WFF pledge and donation page, so she's now monitoring the entire pledge show on their server. It's good to turn a good system over to the organization that will benefit all of us. (Every day I have to go look at who's pledged. We don't want her feeling like the "Maytag washer repairman"...) Ab.

10/8 Regarding Ken Perry's upcoming Sahara Run,

I had the good fortune of spending some time and working with Ken Perry at Bravo 5's
home base this summer at Willie J. Fox Field in Lancaster, Ca. Man, what a committed
guy! Both to Firefighter Safety and to making a difference as evidenced by his training
for the upcoming Sahara run and day to day job attitude. Both he and his flying partner,
Mike Lynn, are so committed to the firefighter safety and helping people that it is
extremely infectious!

Kudos to you both for all you do for firefighter safety, supporting the WFF and being
true leaders in the Fire and Aviation community!!

I remember last year when Ken was training for the "104" ....he said to me "One of my
biggest concerns about this 104 miler is what am I gonna do next year to top it in
continuing to support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation??"

Folks, as we roll off of another fire season, please see if you can find the where with all
to support the WFF along with Ken as his journey continues!

as Ken says,


10/8 MS,

Seems you have a real grip on reality and the real world of fighting wildland fires for federal agencies. At some point someone has to admit we are “firefighters” and call us that.

I just completed our annual fall state FMO meetings and heard once again how budgets will shrink, fire positions only staffed 3 – 9 months, regardless of the actual fire season. Then of course we heard that we have lots of training to accomplish to be professionals and we expect all our firefighters to be highly skilled professionals. It wasn’t appreciated when I talked about expecting professional full-time results with part-time employees.

I can’t help but think of the tens of millions of dollars, maybe more, that would be saved by a single federal wildland fire service. Then I also think of where our mindset would be and how that would impact safety and accident/injury/fatality statistics each year.

When all is said and done, I wonder how many city fire departments are run by the head of city parks and recreation departments… I wonder why county sheriff’s departments aren’t run by the county health department manager. Only in the federal government can we somehow justify the largest combined fire program in the nation run by… uh… oh… not a single top level leader with any fire experience. (I just did a quick check of the bureau and agency level leaders, no fire experience for any of them. If I am wrong, I apologize.)

OK, for you diehards out there… yes, I know cities are mostly run by mayors, counties are mostly run by commissioners, and state forestry agencies are mostly run under an environmental department. But I guess I could argue that at least those folks recognize the value of full time fire programs run year round.

Can you imagine the outcry if a city laid-off most of its firefighters because their statistics showed that most house fires only occurred during certain months! For the rest of the months only the Chief and Assistant Chief were available for fires! Come on… it would not be tolerated. And yup… sorry, we couldn’t do CPR or use an AED on your dying husband/father because we were out clearing a trail… or laid-off.

>From a business perspective can you imagine what would be said if government leaders would take advantage of “economies of scale”, “duplication reduction”, “team identity”, “leadership continuity”, etc!! What would the public think if we had medically trained personnel regularly available and ready to help in our parks and forests vs. having them fill rock baskets for flood control in the desert somewhere?

Yes, it’s a pipe dream at best... wishful thinking most probably… BUT… just think of the first individuals that thought about having public lands set aside for public forests… hummmmmm… just thinking… just thinking.

Thanks to all and enjoy the great fall weather!

10/8 JT Knockwood

Look into the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. They have a great forestry
program with opportunities to attend Rx burns. UMASS with the National Park
Service have been burning research plots for the last 20 or so years. There have
been numerous graduate students that have worked on wildland fire ecology related
stuff and always looked for undergraduates to help. The university teaches a
S-130/190 course that has started the careers of numerous people. Very
professional people and atmosphere.

If you want more information, you can talk to me. Ab has my contact information.


10/8 I want to thank the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation for their live coverage of the Memorial today. Many of us couldn't be there for some reason or another. You gave us a chance to view, and give respect and honor.

I was humbled, as a Forest Service employee, to see our Honor Guard in service again to honor our losses, and the losses of others in our community. It brought both pride and tears.

The coverage was excellent....

The video showed the FS Honor Guard, Director Harbour, and our families intermixed with folks with similar circumstances from throughout the United States. Different takes also showed other leaders on "our" Honor Guard and community.

The President meeting with each family was awesome. His pledged support for the Hometown Heroes Act is something of a victory. The FS Shield behind the President throughout the greeting of the families brought tears to my eyes.

The highlight of the Memorial Ceremony was seeing Dan Gosnell of the Forest Service Honor Guard ringing the 5-5-5 for his fallen brothers and sisters and their families from throughout the nationwide fire community. I know that each toll of the bell was for my friends lost over the years and for the healing of everyone.

Two other names brought emotions as their names were read.... Spencer Koyle and Destry Horton.

As with other years, the Forest Service and other federal agencies are part of the firefighter community and family, and we will always remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the service to others.

Kenneth Kempter
San Bernardino National Forest
10/8 JT Knockwood-

Wildland Fire in New England is very minimal.

If you are looking for formal education, I would look at University of Maine Orono, University of Vermont, Paul Smith, or any other College or University with a BS in Forestry, Forest Management, Forest Ecology, Natural Resources, etc. for your base education. The BS in a natural resources or biology emphasis will qualify you down the road for Fire Management positions in the 401 series.

For informal fire classes, start out with the New York fire academy. It's coming up soon, last week of October/first week of November I think. Research the basic course needs for FFT2 (firefighter type 2) and get those done. Also, contact the State Forest Service of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, etc and find out if they are putting on any training.

If you are thinking of working with US Forest Service your options are very limited in Fire Management in the Green Mountains/White Mountains forests. They do both have some fire, but nowhere near the same programs as what you will find down in the Southern states or further west like Michigan or Minnesota. As for the Park Service- Acadia NP has a Type 3 engine, but I don't know if the program has any more than a fire specialist on staff. BLM does not exist in New England. The US Fish and Wildlife have a few preserves throughout New England and I know they used to hire a seasonal rx fire crew. They may be your best bet for federal employment. As far as the state side goes, Maine and I believe New Hampshire both task Wildland Fire duties to the Forest Rangers of the state. Check the state websites for hiring info.

Last but not least, if you are willing to be flexible in your location, start looking west and go to where the fires are. Frequency of fires in the western states is greater than that in the north east, so you will have more opportunity for experience there.

As a fellow New Englander I wish you good luck and GO REDSOX!

Another JT
10/8 response to JT Knockwood

Ab -

My son has been a wildland firefighter in R1 for four years. He first
became a wildland firefighter through the STEP program his first or
second year in college. This is a route JT might want to consider.
Take the general education classes he needs for an AA (make sure
the classes will transfer!!) then check with the college placement
office in January to see if they have information on the STEP program.
Another program he might want to seriously consider is the SCEP


10/8 I just wanted to add a couple of things to the Forest Service/Fire Service Debate.

Background: my experience is/was eight years on a very active South Zone forest and presently my tenth on a So. Cal. county dept. Engines, hot shots, helicopters, blue cards etc. This issue was going on before I started and will go on for quite awhile.

First of all, if employees are Forestry Tech's, why do they pay into Firefighter Retirement? Or the mandatory retirement age? I also found it convenient for the agency to refer to people as "employees" for routine business, but "firefighters" for more important occasions. During the Fall fires of 93, our ENGINE Co. was running around doing structure protection in Glendale, Pasadena and Eaton Cyn. During a break, Mary Jo Lavin, former Director of FAM addressed us at a staging area and had the gall to tell the captains they were resource management supervisors, not even foremen, and not to be called captains, we were resource management modules and not ENGINE Co's....

As far as EMS goes... The intent, (I was one of the first First Responder instructors) was to take care of our own people on the line, at the station or out on the project. Like many other things, with the work ethic many Forest Service FIREFIGHTERS enjoy, it branched out to being properly trained and equipped to to help anyone as the closest emergency responder. I once had a captain have us do traffic control while an injured biker lay in the highway for 30+ minutes until the fire dept. arrived because he was afraid of getting sued...

Many engine co.'s and hotshot crews carry well stocked BLS equipment and trained first responders and EMTs. So what is wrong with them responding and assisting???

With regards to winter work, it seems times have changed. Many of us scrambled to find work for recreation, resources, at the SO. etc. One of the main reasons people went to work for other agencies was they got tired of getting laid off each winter. That was even with several 21 day assignments each summer. Many of the skills we picked up in the winter helped back at the FIRE STATION in the summer.

To finish beating a dead horse, the Forest Service is a full service fire service. Unless people in management and politicians that can effect change such as name recognition, better pay and benefits, work schedules do so, the current issues will continue to get worse and gut the proud agency.

Normbc9, just curious where do you work, because in South Zone, the reputation of the Forest Service is not "slipping".

AK old timer, with all due respect, your philosophy wouldn't work in California. If you were in that car accident, wouldn't you want help asap, whether it is a green, white or purple engine, or crew truck? Someone trained to help provide immediate life saving skills? How do you know the vehicle fire is not a threat to the wildland without responding to and sizing it up? If it's not, do you tell the driver "tuff luck" and return to your project work?

My .02$

10/8 ms,

Good to see the passion is still alive. I once had your vision of the Forest Service getting credit for the all-risk job that most of you do on a daily basis during the summertime and at the end of the season. Old Timer hit on the head though, for right now the powers to be are content on the mission of the Forest Service as a Land Management Agency. Is there anything wrong with that? No, but I have always felt there was a way to bring Land Management and All-Risk together some way.

I think I gave up hope when I attended last years meeting in Reno. The folks from BDF had a great idea that they worked on for a couple of years (I think) that made sense to help with retention and the pay issues all of you have been feeling for years. It was shot down because of budget concerns, but I am glad to see that it is surfacing again.

I left the beginning of this year's fire season to another agency because I was not getting any younger and I couldn't wait any longer for a better retirement for my family. The sad thing is, the Forest Service is going to take a bigger hit after January when more of its leadership makes the same move as I did. Some days I am sad that I left because of all the great people I met through the years, but I still get to see and work with them on fires, I am just dressed a little different now. I am happy with my new job, because I work with some good people that welcomed me in and I get to see my family alot more.

I hope someday FAM and the WO see the passion all of you have for your job and make the right decision to at least listen to some of the great ideas all of you have to make the agency just a little better. You have one hell of a lobbyist backing you.

Good luck to you all in your fight........

Former Fed
10/7 Can you recommend any colleges in New England to attend to become
a wildland firefighter? Most colleges offer only fire science courses - is
this what I need to get started to become a forest firefighter? I don't want
to know about hydrants, etc. but am looking for some guidance on what
classes to take to fight fire in the forest. I want to get an Associates
degree to start, work for a while then hopefully go back to school. Have
any advice for me?

Thanks -
JT Knockwood

Did you take a look at this page? 2 and 4 year colleges/universities in fire education
Doesn't look like much in New England. Readers? Any suggestions? Ab.

10/7 From the Hotlist IA page CNF-Huecis this morning. Example of concepts I ranted about a few nights ago. One of a few Forests looking outside the box at staffing and protection.

1 acre timber wires down, started @ 0520, fire contained releasing cooperators.
Sheltered from NE winds, quick knock down due to CNF Delta Staffing (24 hour coverage). Could have been another Laguna Fire.

AK OldTimer, nope I don’t think a 365/24 service is where we need to be nationwide now or even within our lifetime. However, if we exclude ideas or choose not to consider them we are providing a disservice to the public. You just made my point way better then I ever could. Nowhere in the CFRs or Forest Service Manual allows us to do anything other than to fight wildfire (NPS does have some all-risk authorities within the park). However I can circle a football field with readers of this forum who can tell you story after story where they saved a life. Let me repeat that; “Forestry Technicians have saved a life, actually saved hundreds of lives over the years.” They perform because of the medical skills they learned on and off the job, because of the fire funds used to purchase medical supplies and because the dispatch office responded them based on Chief Officer preplanning direction. Forests spend more on medical training, medical supplies and the SCBA program than we do on chainsaws and hand tools. Just think how much more good we could do for the public if this was within policy. Should we give those dollars and those saved lives back? You said it AK and I agree, WOW. The mission must be formally changed and federal fire management must be reorganized.

I know many on the ground who do not want change (both old and young) and how can one argue with the excellent comments by "tired and annoyed late season hotshot". Many like him work so hard and give up so much each fire season. His to-the-point post truly makes one think about life’s priorities.

Look above at the National Transformation activities of the Forest Service, where they are carving out a Line Officer dominated Forest Service. We must have our say. We must have a Federal Fire Service that is progressive and always looking to advance. The national force of fed firefighters supported by a real mission for the good of the public would be a powerhouse. An organization with a strong IA workforce. An organization made up of Type 1 and 2 Incident Command Teams with strong operation and planning abilities. An organization with the best hand crews on the earth. An organization with fire engines able to maneuver on the tightest of logging roads to fight fire or start an IV or grab the AED to give that heart attack victim a second chance at life.

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what I envision or your alternate visions of what we should be doing. At the end of the day it's the public's expectations of us. Not all of us will agree with those public expectations. Then we will be forced to accept them or move on. However, I believe this is the future and having a progressive organization just may save our jobs from the competition, from those offering to provide a more dynamic service.

Usually in society and especially in government, something bad needs to happen before we see change. Something will happen and change will occur for us after it’s scrolling across the bottom of your CNN channel. It’s only a matter of time. I simply ask each of you to do your part to make change happen by educating the public. Volunteer to go to those County Fairs and community events. Show the public and local community leaders the hose, the fire tools, oh and yes those items carried in those trauma kits. Educate the WO Old Guard who surrendered to the voices of political pressure about the reality of what’s happening on the ground. In a democracy, the public are best at forcing change to laws and authorities as witnessed by the security changes since 9/11. Reorganization of federal fire management authorities is possible. Educate the American people, who, when given all the facts, want a strong (real) All-Risk Federal Fire Service “Fed Fire”.

I will close my comments with something I saw hanging on the wall behind the desks of my local IHC Superintendent and Hotshot Captains.

“The galleries are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down in the arena are the doers. They make mistakes because they try many things. The man (or woman) who makes no mistakes lacks boldness and the sprit of adventure. He is the one who never tries anything. He is the brake in the wheel of progress. And yet it cannot be truly said he makes no mistakes, because his biggest mistake is the fact he tries nothing, except criticize those who do things”. – David M. Shoup – General, United States Marine Corp.

Get in that arena people, be progressive!


10/7 Ms,

I like how you presented the message. You are right too. The last thing the top level managers want in the Forest Service is to convey the message that they have a Fire Department. They treat this fact like it is a secret.

CDF was run by professionally trained Foresters too and they did their level best to hide from the fact that the law identified that agency as having the responsibility to “aggressively attack and suppress unwanted wild fires.” I kept hearing about the class of ’48. I soon found out that was the UC Berkeley Forestry School class and they were for the most part running the daily CDF operations. Nothing happened without their OK. Then it was the class of “52 and so forth. The presence of fire contracts with local governments became the major portion of their activity and so today we have trained Fire Service Administration professionals running the outfit and the Foresters are now operating the Resources management Section.

Until the Forest Service is reorganized you will still feel the influence of trained professionals who like the power and prestige their position offers in this organization. Look at the private sector and tell me where there are trained Foresters making the money and benefits the government career offers. I don’t think we deal with bad people but they sure are misguided and short sighted too. You desperately need professionally trained Fire Service Administrators at the helm of the Fire organization, not a group of resource managers.

The reputation of the Forest Service is slipping badly with the local government fire agencies and the fact that the newest top level R-5 staff is refusing to work with them is just digging the chasm deeper and wider too. The Forest Service did have contracts to furnish year long fire protection on the Angeles and Cleveland years ago and both worked very well. Both were with local government agencies and all of a sudden someone at the top in Washington DC put a stop to that a couple of decades ago.


10/7 ms:

When I used the word “mission” I was not speaking to current public perception of our mission… or lack of, as an Agency. I am talking about the idea that when you come on board with the Forest Service you should have been told, or need to be told, that you’re here for more than fighting fires and providing medical services. As a firefighter, suppression and emergency care may be the priority, but as a Forest Service employee, supporting the District Program of Work is also one of our responsibilities. This is also expected of us by our public and an important aspect of how we are perceived by the folks who pay our checks.

As a firefighter, project work for the Hydrologist, Wildlife Biologist, Range Con, Trails, etc. does not detract from my availability or commitment to the protection of the Forest and our public.

So when I start to read about folks complaining about being extended because there is work to be done I get a little hot. I’m disappointed that things have changed, that folks aren’t hungry to extend, that folks aren’t proud to be part of getting things done in the woods for their home unit.

I have no problem with the idea of a “Fire Service”. Perhaps the folks complaining about being extended can work for it when it comes to fruition.

Fuels Officer
10/6 To ms:

Wow....I have to disagree with you about your interpretation of the Forest Service Mission. You said the Forest Service (FS) should be a Full Response Emergency Services provider 24/7 and 365 days a year from all locations where the FS operates and maintains fire fighting personnel and equipment. My first question is: Can we afford to do this with our limited and declining budgets? I think not.

I've spent quite a bit of time researching Federal laws, the CFRs, and the FS Manuals and Handbooks. I can not find any reference authorizing the FS to provide emergency response to any incident other than wild-land fires and wild land fires threatening National Forest land. Of course the exceptions are when the FS is mobilized to a National Incident (hurricanes, Space Shuttle, etc.) through FEMA or Homeland Security authorizations. My take is that under current Federal laws and regulations, the FS can not legally respond and provide emergency/medical assistance to a non-wild-land fire incident.

What has happened in California and I'm sure in other parts of the country, is known in military jargon as "Mission Creep". The States, Counties, or Cities were not providing EMS services to the remote, rural areas so the FS personal and equipment, being the nearest responders, were called upon. Over time, the citizens in these remote areas came to expect the FS to respond to any incident "perceived" to be an emergency. So what happens? All the citizens of the United States are paying for EMS services that are a responsibility of the local State, County, or City governments! Just another example of how our publics expect the Feds to pay for all necessities they don't want to pay for themselves through their local and state taxes.

Of course the legal issues will jump out. Now that the FS has "creeped" into these EMS missions, the public expects and demands these services. So, if the FS doesn't provide EMS services to remote areas, the public will sue the FS for not responding even though the FS has no legal responsibilities to do so. You know, the Fed Govt has deep pockets!

One other point.
Just like here in Alaska, FS wild-land firefighters not on actual wild-land fires, are financed through the Presuppression funding (WFPR) portion of the National Forest annual budget. To me, for example, using this funding to respond to an automobile accident (without a potential of a wild-land fire), is an illegal expenditure of Federal funds. Does Congress understand how their presuppression funds are being spent? I don't think so. I don't think Congress has in mind providing 24/7 EMS services when they allocated funds to prepare and staff for wildland fire suppression. And, the more WFPR funds are reduced, the tougher it will be to provide this service in the future.

I have to close with a possible solution. I'm sure most Ranger Districts and National Forests would be more than willing to issue a Special Use Permit to the State or local governments to build and staff EMS stations, financed by the local/state government, in rural and remote areas of the National Forest. This would provide EMS services through local/state agencies. It would also relieve the FS from having to provide to provide such services and return the FS focus to wildland -fire suppression. Eliminating this burden of providing EMS services would be great relief to many District Rangers and Forest Supervisors.

The question is: Would local/state governments be willing to pay to do this when they already get the services for "free"?

Does anyone have a different opinion or comment?

AK Old Timer
10/7 Re: ERCs and the September "Mother of All Storms"

I noticed a very interesting thing happen after the supposed "record" September storm with record cold, rain, and snow was barreling down the coast in CA that was supposed to hit the entire state.... it didn't.

What I noticed was that the storm missed most of the south part of the state (just like the one from yesterday)...... and like the previous storm, the areas that didn't receive rainfall, snow, or little other affects other than a few days of elevated relative humidity...... dropped off the ERC charts for some reason!!!!

I would like to hope that this is a misunderstanding by the folks at the NoOps and SoOps intel shops regarding the "wetting error" fix that was intended for other areas, or more correctly stated as the known fix that was incorrectly applied to areas that don't get a normal "snowpack". No snowfall.... no snowfall at all... why were the corrections applied in September? I would also like to think that this error was mistakenly applied to areas that folks thought would receive season ending snowfall that would cover for weeks at the very least........

I would also hope this error.... Will be corrected and adjusted by both intel shops..... especially in the lower elevation chaparral and in areas that the "fix" was incorrectly applied to.

As someone said today, "if folks can see snow from McClellan, and most folks in Vallejo never see McClellan, fire season must be over".

The 1976 and prior stuff regarding RH values and the invalidity of the data..... non-sense.... it was only a 1-3% RH difference in the data (irrelevant for trends or safety) for throwing out the data from NFDRS stations that have over 50+ years of historical data, in some cases over 80 years of data.

In addition, don't forget the local experts when you make decisions based upon models. Know the limits of the model.... its strengths.... its weaknesses.... and seek experts on the model and upon fire severity and fire behavior before you make rash decisions....... Don't especially try to manipulate a model or data that is watched by dozens of experts in the field!!! As a good friend says, "all models are wrong, but some are useful".

As we all go into tomorrow (today) and the rest of the fire season...... SoOps says (Oct. 6, 2007),

"The potential for large fire will remain low to very low over the region through next weekend. Even though there will be locally strong and gusty northeast to east winds over parts of Southern California this Sunday morning, fuels will remain to moist for the threat of large fire to increase significantly. Expect very light initial attack over the region through next weekend."

<snip expletive acronym> Where are the moist fuels?......... Live New 52% (Critical)...... Live Old 44% (Critical)..... Winds..... 25-35 gusts to 50 mph (Critical).... 10 hr.... less than 5 (Critical)...... 1 hr.... less than 4 (Critical)..... Any problems seen with "intel" ????....... All looks good from Vallejo and DC or folks who have to answer to them....... That is the <snip expletive> that kills folks..


10/7 To ms...

Well said.


10/7 Re: tired and annoyed late season hotshot...

"John Q Publics" stats from last year...

...52 weeks in a year.
...40 hours a week for a respectable, hard working American.
...52 X 40 = 2,080 hours.
...or 260 DAYS...per year at the workplace if you're a stud... meaning no vacations.

late season hotshots stats from last year...

"Last year I maxed out (ok, 56 hours short) my 1039 and worked over 1100 hours OT last season."

...1039 - 56 = 983 hours...
...1100 + 983 = 2,083 hours...

(A month is equal to 4.3 weeks, so that means...40hrs a week X 4.3 = 172 hrs per month.)

...983 divided by 172 = 5.72 months.
...or 123 DAYS.

So what is the incentive to work like this? It's overload. This is obviously not a typical, or some might say "normal" way to make a living.... so what's the catch? The work itself? The travel? The landscapes? The camaraderie? The extreme mental tenacity? Is it because you can look yourself in the mirror in the morning and be proud of what you do?

Great...What ever the reason, you deserve time off.... and since our agency deems you a FORESTRY TECH and pays you as a forestry tech, and lays you off like a forestry tech (@ 1039)..... go on vacation, you paid your dues... have a good time. We want you rested, PTed, and stoked to return next year 'cause WE NEED YOU.

If we lost all of our 1039 hotshots because they were sick and tired of the BS... where would we be? Not the agency.... what about the country? Take these folks out of the equation and then what? who's gonna do it... You? What are hotshots really telling prospects about working for the agency? They are an extremely blunt and honest breed.... and completely under-appreciated.

Anybody responding to this post....

See if you can stay away from "I" statements or comparisons to the 20th century... let's get with the times.

10/7 1039 and 13_13:

Boy the times have changed. Tired and Annoyed, you got to be home 15 days this season, and you
are pushing a grand of O.T., good on you. I wonder if you were around pre-2002 when we stayed
gone 21 days and longer than that. Or how 'bout when there were no work rest rules. Poor little
firefighters, you are so abused. Take some of your annual if you need a break, but work for a
living, don't suck of the unemployment system if you have any alternative. It is supposed to be a
safety net, not a hammock.

I never wanted to get laid off when I was a temp or w.a.e. Working was too much fun. And when I
did finally get laid off. I went out and found whatever work I could, private or USFS. Thinning
trees in the snow, marking timber in the snow, working the potato sheds in the snow or I went to
school in the snow. If those options did not work out, then I would sign up for un-enjoyment and
keep bugging the overhead till they hired me back as soon in early spring as possible. Somehow
my wife and I have raised 3 kids and had a reasonably fun time doing so, skiing, boating,
coaching sports and taking a few vacations.

Have some pride. Don't be part of the entitlement crowd. You all should be thankful that you have
employment. I am kind of sick of all the whining about how you have to work to much or too hard,
but at least it's better than reading about how you don't get paid as good as CDF or there aren't
any fires. I guess those threads will start again after Christmas.


"Wish I Never Put the Hose Down, Wish I Never Got Old"
That's a Neil Young line if you didn't know it.

HAW HAW the threads are re-occurring, but I always learn something. Lots of good career info in this one. I've been posting it on the Hotlist discussion because the Hotlist has such great search features. Ab.

10/6 The "Mission"


I agree with your conception of why the tax payers expect the USFS to respond to their emergency needs. Color notwithstanding, if you put emergency response lights on a vehicle, you have just converted that vehicle from an everyday means of transportation into a public service vehicle. The public expects...and has every right to do so... that vehicle to carry people and equipment to help them in their time of need. If you put a decal on the side of that vehicle that identifies it as "Engine # something" from the "Snagpatch N.F." it only strengthens the publics perception that the vehicle is in fact a Fire Engine. Fire Engines carry the good guys and gals into battle with the Red Devil... and most everybody teaches their children that if they ever need help, they can ALWAYS call the Fire Department.

S. T. Bear may only have a shovel but by golly, he uses that shovel to help him when he goes to fires, hazardous materials spills, medical aids, T. C.'s, cats in trees, watercraft accidents, deliver babies, and on and on and on.

Those nice people who wear one of his hats... and just happen to be packing a .9 mm sidearm...aren't going to tell Joe Sixpak and his family that they aren't going to help them out in time of need because they are only an "ologist" and need to get on with their job of counting fish... are they ?

All of the players in the alphabet game...NPS, BIA, BLM, USFS, etc., etc...wear their Departments' uniform proudly...as well they should...and they realize that when they ARE in uniform, the public has the absolute right to expect them to perform their duties accordingly and professionally. At the very least, they expect the employee to be able to perform Basic First Aid, CPR and the ability to dial 911.

If these agencies continue to proclaim that they are an "all risk" public service agency, it is reasonable for the general public to expect those individual employees to accept the responsibilities that come with representing that agency.

Do it with pride and professionalism...it may not say that in the duty statement, but that's what the public has come to expect.

And they're correct in believing that....

Copter 100

10/6 I just wanted to chime in on the tour of duty chat going on.

1. Yeah, there are fire people who feel their job is to
work fires. As an IHC member, I'd put myself in that class.
The flip side of that is how I see quite a few non-fire
(resource) people on teams that obviously don't take much
pride in the fire side of their job. Big guts, bad
decisions, and a general lack of fire knowledge... I'll
tell you what. You stay at home a count your sticks, I'll
stay in the field and fight fire.

2. Last year I maxed out (ok, 56 hours short) my 1039 and
worked over 1100 hours OT last season. This season so far
I'm right around 1000, on track for maxing out the 1039
next spring, and I've already spent around 100 nights
spiked. And I'm not talking about overhead positions here.
This is on the line time as an IHC sawyer. In the
course of six months, I've seen my wife seven times (a
total of 15 days). I'd say I've put in my time for the
year. Unemployment benefits after being laid off were part
of the deal. When you put in the time of a FULL fire season
at the intensity level I do (no, drinking coffee in the
planning tent doesn't cut it), then I'll start to listen to
you complain about me "not wanting to do my job."

sign me

tired and annoyed late season hotshot
10/6 The FS Mission

Although I appreciate Fuels Officer's commitment to the Service by "bleeding green" and for you correctly pointing out the importance of involvement of all staffs within the Forest Service, including the fire "service" staff. I've spent 7 years teaching Firefighters the importance of integration with other staffs on the unit. This is a very important aspect of our agency one that is overlooked by both fire and non-fire employees.

However, I disagree with you on the mission or at least what the mission should be or what is perceived by the public as what the mission is. The public expects emergency care by federal responders (a fire service) when they visit our Nat Parks, BLM lands and Nat Forests.

The public--> The people who just happen to fund our paychecks every 2 weeks expect a level of emergency responder service. The public is the family driving home on the east fork of San Gabriel Cyn on the ANF who have a head on traffic collision. That family expects someone to respond. The East Fork Forest Service engine is 3 miles away, the LA County engine is 43 miles ways. The only dam mission that family cares about is that green engine, 3 miles away is equip with BLS and ALS. If that was my family, I would want and will pay for with my tax dollars medically trained Forest Service employees to give my kid every chance to live that golden hour. I could care less about what your mission is unless it references federal emergency first responder medical mgt. You can apply this scenario to the sledding accident on the BDF or the drowning/CPR in progress medical aid at the forks of the Salmon River. I want my Federal Firefighters trained and funded year round to provide medical care to the citizens visiting federal lands.

Makes sense doesn't it? If Grandpa's having a heart attack at Robinson Flat Campground on the TNF and when that Green engine comes around the corner wouldn't you want them to equipped with every field medical tool available?

I think most of the public would be shocked if they knew how we play this hide and seek game with our so called "mission" and shocked what our mission does not include. The American public would fund what ever it takes to have the best field medical capability available on fed engines, including paying for Paramedics, including paying for 24 hour staffing of engines in high population areas that surround federal lands.

Fuels Officer, we are a fire service, not because if what our mission says, but we are a fire service because of what we do and more importantly what the public perception is of what we do. The Boy Scout Leader out in the woods doesn't say; "look kids here comes the Forestry Technicians and the 401 college educated-Fire Mgt Specialist". He says, "Here come our FIREFIGHTERS" !

We are the Fire and Emergency Service Branch of the Forest Service. One of a few different staffs within the Forest Service, all playing an important part for the greater good of the Forest Service and, more importantly, the visiting public.

Times have changed people and we, our WO "transformers" and Congress, better get the mission in line with the expectations the public has for us.


10/6 Career status

Young and Dumb in R1,

Some things to consider:

Before you make the jump to the apprentice program you need to consider just how much you want the coveted "Career Status". My experience has been do what ever it takes to get "Career Status" if what you want is a career in the federal government. In the 80's some folks took clerical jobs as a way to get career status. And understanding the clerical world of an organization is not a bad thing if you're headed to a managerial position. I also know people that took career seasonal fire job during the national fire plan buildup so they could apply to ologist positions. However, federal agencies are not the only place to have a career in natural resource management. There are state and local government organizations, NGOs (like the TNC) and private industry. (NGO=Non Governmental Organizations; TNC=The Nature Conservancy)

You have already mentioned spending 2 years sitting through S courses. In 10 years would you consider that time squandered?

Do you want a lower level management position? Or do you want to be far enough up the chain to be able to make meaningful decisions or have significant input into decisions? The masters will help when your looking to move to higher graded positions.

Are you set on the big green machine as the only place to work or would you consider other agencies? (we do like stealing apprentices from the USFS) If you're set on a career in fire with USFS, hard to beat the apprentice deal.

How important is having the "benefits" offered by a career position?

In closing I would say, find your passion and go for it.

Small Agency FMO

10/6 OT

I don't want to age myself, but "back when" many --if not most of the folks-- that were 13/13 or 18/8 or 25/1 wanted to work. That's right, they'd rather work than be on unemployment. Back then there was always some kind of project work (erosion control, recreation maintenance, stacking sticks, building stuff, .......). That was when I got most of my stuff done. As a matter of fact, I use to keep several smokejumpers employed until Christmas or longer. I only remember 2 or 3 folks that didn't work, because one taught school and the others went to SZ for work. Anyway, I don't see why some people think they are entitled to or are owed unemployment benefits if you can work and maybe get a little regular OT if something happens. Trust and believe, something does happen somewhere every year. We are gonna get it here in the South - Southeast if it doesn't really rain soon. That's my "dime" on the subject!


10/5 AB & All:

A lot of good dialogue on the unemployment/1039 etc. issue. The FWFSA's membership is quite diverse with permanent full time, permanent part time and temporary firefighters in grades ranging from GS-4 through GS-14.

Recently I discussed the Forest Service' annual effort to seek authority to extend 1039 employees with FAM Director Tom Harbour. It was my suggestion that since the fire season seems to be getting longer each year, coupled with significant vacancies in certain areas thus necessitating the extension authority, the FS ought to consider offering to those employees who want it some type of permanent appointment so they can earn some benefits. It continues to be the FWFSA's position that with the FS expecting the same level of risk from a temporary firefighter as they do permanent firefighters, changes need to be made in current law to provide such benefits.

Many temporary firefighters like the seasonal work as they have other jobs or educational commitments when they are laid off thus I wouldn't expect all of them to accept a permanent assignment. I have heard from a number of them about the extensions in that they fear if they don't accept the extensions from the FS, it will compromise their being picked up the following season. Extensions also cause some chaos as it affects the next season as well.

While the issue of eligibility for FEGLI and the providing of basic health care for temporary firefighters is being incorporated into our legislative initiative, so too is the issue of credible time towards retirement for temporary firefighters.

Suffice it to say all of this is just another element of the dysfunction of a system than is archaic, antiquated and in serious need of reform. For instance yet another issue in our initiative is the "double standard" of overtime where when on a fire true OT is earned but take a FEMA assignment and you get some other kind of "less than" time & a half OT. It just doesn't make sense and I'm sure there are some folks on Type I teams that may, in fact, be working free for the rest of the season because of annual caps etc.

I know just enough about some of this to be dangerous and, thus, I am very fortunate to have members of the FWFSA trying [emphasis added] to explain all this weird compensation to be.

Anyway, thanks to all for the topic. It is certainly one that needs discussing.

Next up: why the FS still makes firefighters pay for their own boots...:)

Casey Judd
Business Manager
10/5 Howdy all -

Here's some more random thoughts....

Yep, it seems dry in the east... I'm in Virginia - just back from a walk - and it is DRY. It is a hair early for burning, but the weather reminds me of some nice fall fires. It was 80 degrees again today - definitely warm for October. Beautiful out.

To add to Midwest Fire Guy's lingo learned somewhere between Knoxville and Asheville... I was in "intensive southern language training" there for a while... and learned "done and went and gone and..." - only you say it real fast and run it all together. As in "Well, that thur truck, it got ruint, so I dun-n-wint-n-gone-n throwed it out down that ravine down yonder". These sorts of valuable lessons came in handy when working with some locals on a ridgetop on a fire the week of Thanksgiving later that year: I could actually understand what they were saying. Don't reckon I could now, my accent dun got ruint, I reckon I'd hafta git learnt agin.

On the 1039 issue... when I left my seasonal job for a permanent one in 2000, eventually my 1039 hours were added to my "retirement SCD date", which as I understand it, means that my retirement calculation does include my 1039 seasonal time, although my other work benefits are calculated off my permanent (PFT) hire date in 2000. Is this not true now for recent more recent permanent hires?

My thoughts are again with folks on the San Bernardino - you guys sure have had a lot to deal with this year. I may not be in So Cal anymore, but you know there are people thinking of you out here.

Take care all, and be safe on them thar fars if ya up and git sent!

10/5 Ab------just picked this off the Reno Gazette Journal. It's AP.
John Bennett, USFS retired

Here's another link to the AP story.

Forest Service advisor killed in Afghanistan
October 5, 2007

Steven Thomas Stefani, of Wells, Nev., a rangeland specialist with the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest headquartered in Sparks, was killed in Afghanistan Thursday when a convoy he was riding in was hit by an explosion near Ghazni.

Stefani, a Forest Service employee, was working as a volunteer agricultural advisor on a Provincial Reconstruction Team for the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service in Afghanistan.

Condolences. Ab.

10/5 Fuels Officer:

Yours was one of the few posts on the UI subject with which I agree.
You took the words out of my mouth. Thank you.

10/5 To: Young & Dumb.

OK here is my take on your situation and that of any other 1039 hr appointment employee. In an earlier post I pointed out some differences in FERS vs. CSRS retirement. For people who want to stay in the 1039 hr world while they decide who they want to be when they grow up, they need to realize they are wasting valuable time in getting on board with their future financial well being. (Working for the fed fire salaries already puts you in jeopardy.)

After fiddling away your youth and then deciding to take that career seasonal appointment in your late 20's or 30's, be aware; every hour you have worked up to that time will not count as service credit for your retirement.

When you start your career appointment it's day one, baby, as far as OPM is concerned. So you may have lost out on years of service credit along with starting a retirement plan. If fire is your addiction, get in the system. If you are dabbling in it to pay for your education and really plan on something else, stay in the 1039 hr appointment, and as soon as you graduate get a real job in your field.

I started my career in '73 went up to a GS-6 and had to demote to a GS-5 in 1978 to get that career status. I was not happy about it but back then our 1039 hrs could be bought back and counted for total time. That is not the case now. So my advice: get in early you have really want to be able to go out at 50 yrs if you can.


10/5 Howdy, Ab.

Kudos to AK Old Timer for a great job on the Cascade ICP BurnBy video ! Ought to be required-viewing for all non-fireline personnel.

Jumping on an earlier post -- this fall has the potential for a lot of activity in the southern Appalachians. Drought indices are at historic levels in several states. Some fire and burning restrictions currently in place in some areas and more under consideration. Leaf-fall hasnt yet begun, and the "official" fall wildfire season has either just begun (10/1) or will begin soon (10/15). Lots of meetings and coordination going on by state and federal wildland fire agencies. Numerous small fires, both lightning and human-caused. Thanksgiving dinner could be turkey sandwiches on a ridgetop ............

Keep up your good work -- STUMPIE
10/5 Folks seem to be confusing two things:
  • Appointment Status (Permanent or Permanent Intermittent) and
  • Job Status (Full-time vs. Part-time)

Permanent status, whether PFT or PCS (Permanent Career Seasonal) allow the employer to set and adjust work schedules based upon funding and work available. PCS employees are expected, and codified by law, to work whenever employment is offered and funded.

Neither PFT or PCS employees can be changed to part-time (less than 40 hrs.) without their consent as others have expressed concerns about.

Neither morally should a fire leader keep folks from caring for their family and utilizing unemployment benefits that MAY pay better than base pay checks in the fall/winter/spring months.

/s/ Want to make sure all points are heard so folks understand the true reasons why folks don't want apprentice jobs.... or why a 13/13 appointment.............. or an 18/8 job........... Most often, the leadership isn't listening.

It's easy to say "the leadership isn't listening." I'd like to hear some solutions proposed that are a legal alternative. My take is that the leadership do not have alternatives. If you're a leader, make some solid suggestions that can be implemented. Ab.

10/5 In General,

I'm not going to sit here and talk about "when I was a firefighter back in the 80's". What I want to say is this. I have had the privilege to "bleed green" for 10 years. When I started I spent my entire first year as a Volunteer from June until December, working 40 + hours a week. Why you ask, because I wanted a job with the United States Forest Service.

This isn't the "Fire Service" that many of you hope it will become. It's the Forest Service, and our mission entails much more than fighting wildland fires.

I think we went down the wrong street somewhere when we gave the impression that fighting fire was our priority as an agency. When you "sign on" with the Forest Service you are agreeing to be part of the only agency like it in the world. Our responsibility as Forest Service Employees goes way beyond thinking that the only reason you are here, is for suppressing wildland fires. You signed on to be land managers, and the cop-out, "that’s not in my job description” has pretty much played out.

What’s the big deal with being extended if there is work to do? What are you here for? If you want seasonal work, with winters off, sign on for a teacher position. Do your homework. This agency is about more than fighting fires. We depend on our seasonal workforce to achieve vegetative goals that, in the long run, will make our jobs as firefighters safer.

I have seen the statements talking about promising your loved ones the winter. Well, what is it about project work, working regular hours, not wildland hours that will keep you from seeing your loved ones?

I’m disappointed that some folks were “sold” their jobs on the benefits of unemployment. All this does is detract from what this agency is. “Hey bro, you only have to work half the year, and then the rest of us, agency or not, will support your trip to Central America” Lets get back to reality.

We are not the “Fire Service” yet.

Fuels Officer
10/5 Re: Tours of Duty

I am a little concerned about the folks who keep spouting "its against the law" for the federal government to work employees past their 13/13 and 18/8 appointments. If it is, show where in the CFR's or USC's that it is against the law.

More correctly, it should be stated that it is against arbitration that the Forest Service voluntarily agreed to in a settlement with NFFE and the R-5 Partnership Council in the early 1990's. As part of the agreement, folks who were "forced" to work in excess of 13/13 were converted to 18/8's. Also as a part of the agreement, NFFE and the Partnership Council agreed to allow the 2 extra pay periods to accommodate agency flexibility.

It is a long story and folks are starting to get at the roots of it. Seems the problem is coming up again for some reason.........

The Forest Service, by both state and federal law, are not allowed to provide unemployment compensation if both work and funding are available.

It is pretty sad... just like in the early 1990's and again in the mid 2000's.... unemployment has outpaced the "living base wage" for federal wildland firefighters in some areas.

By the way, overtime counts in UI calculations for earnings by quarter.


No one has said "it's against the law." They have said that the employee must agree to the extension. Of course if they don't agree, they are basically quitting and are not eligible for unemployment. Ab.

10/5 Southern Lingo

Back in the mid 80's I went on a spring fire assignment to North Carolina. We loaded up on a C-141 in Denver and flew to Knoxville TN. Someone on one of the crews remarked that it was "Gram Rudman firefighting" to use a military cargo plane to transport crews. Our gear was strapped in the center of the cargo hold along with some "porta potties". Our seats lined the side of the plane and were made of webbing. There were two arctic boys with ice water and 4 guys in green nomex flight suits that served as stewards. We road school buses from Knoxville to Ashville NC. Anyway one of the persons on my crew was from Ashville. She filled us in on the local vocabulary. Here is something to add to your list:

Fir: the distance to the Far. "How fir is it to the far?"

Midwest Fire Guy

10/5 Unemployment:

When I was a temp, laid off looking for UI, the unemployment office did not make a difference between perm seasonals or temps being laid off...They can put folks in either category into what they call 'seasonal layoff' status, just explain that you get rehired year after year. It always worked for me and all folks I worked with, unless the State of California had changed something about UI (Except the rates), I think this is still so. The UI office is State, not Federal, and the workers usually don't know (or care) much about the differences between a laid off seasonal Perm or a temp. This is the same status farmworkers get put into, and they are not guaranteed rehire either. So, unless you explain to them that there is a slight chance you will not be going back, they won't know the difference...


10/5 Ok, since this is a discussion about employment, I'll pose another question:

I've put in 7 seasons, working my way up from a temp GS-3 to a temp GS-5, mostly while attending school. I've put my name in for several (well more than several, but I have been relatively picky) GS-5 13/13s this past year, and always come up short. A few times I've been in the top three, but just haven't been lucky I guess.

Anyway, I'm still unsure what to do. I've got it in my mind to keep working seasonally while I go on and get a Masters degree, but I'm also being encouraged to apply for the R1 apprentice spots. Now, I really am not too keen on dropping back to a GS-4 for two years, having to retake a lot of classes I've already had while at academy, and above all committing to working only as a 13/13 when I do convert back to a GS-5 spot. I can work two seasons (spring in the south and summer in the west) as a seasonal and do pretty well, probably better than what I would do as an apprentice in the next two years. Also, I'm very happy working in aviation, and it seems that most apprentices I know are converting to IA handcrew and engine crew spots rather than helitack spots, so that's something to consider too.

So I guess my question is this: Is it worth it to try for an apprentice spot just to get that "foot in the door?" Or am I better off working as a temp for a few more seasons and getting a Masters in a fire-related field? My quals are all about what you'd expect of a 7th-year guy, ICT5, FALB, HECM, FEMO, etc, with the single resource stuff starting to get worked on next year.

I'm pretty sure I know what I want to do, but I'm fishing for ideas too...

Young and Dumb (and slightly confused) in R1
10/5 Ab

I must agree with most of what "jimheart" says in his post "Concerning firebreaks, weeds, and the placement of homes."

The sunrise fuel break is popular as it saved many homes; however it had been partially scraped earlier this year for the Banner fire. What if the Banner did not happen? How overgrown would it have been and how much more overgrown would it have been? I cannot answer that as I did not personally look at it. Like to hear from some of the boots on the ground.

Regarding the landslide on Mt. Soledad; nothing to do with wildland fire; just poor home location. That is the steepest mountain San Diego. Clay and shale/slate and accident waiting to happen and right on top of the Rose Canyon fault.

Another major San Diego city water main blew out this afternoon right in front of Sea World. Was there a minor quake in the area; not detected on the earthquake monitoring system?

The whole world is a variable! Never know what will happen; that is why we rely on our fire departments to be there for us. All risk response! Remember the feds are the first ones to go to the "Big Ones". Then the USAR people; who are a mix of mostly professional full time firefighters and some volunteers.

Random thoughts this evening Ab.


10/4 Trying to make a career:

I went thru the same thing you are, I was an apprentice, also. But I was a temp for 12 years first. I had to go on unemployment for every winter because my Forest doesn't have winter work. Then I was only held to my 13-13 for many years, and I had to drop from a GS-5 temp to a GS-4 apprentice. So I know what you go thru.

What I was referring to is this:
We have temps that won't put in for apprentice jobs because they don't want to commit, (even though there's no more service agreement),
We have GS-5's who qualify for GS-6 18-8's that won't apply because they want the winter off....
We have GS-6 Demos open to anybody who qualifies, and no takers...repeatedly...

So there ARE jobs... in other Regions, a friend of mine who is a Zone FMO cannot find people to apply to Perm or 18-8 jobs.

When the Cal Fire vacancies came up, I posted them in our office so folks could see them and apply if they wanted to... So you can't say that people that can help do not. I counsel folks on how to promote all the time, and I'm not one of the mandatory 'Mentors'... I go down to Mc Clellan every round to try and fill Perm jobs, and we always come up empty.

When I was trying to get permanent, I went on my own time in the winter to all the classes to become ENGB and CRWB on my own dime....Then took jobs in locations far from home just to get in the door...
So, If someone really wants in, there are ways....If you are looking for a longer tour at one of the lower grades, just lateral to another Region for a couple of years, then come back...R-5 is in a declining budget loop, and this is not likely to change.

Remember, people at the District level can not change or lengthen tours...and usually not Forest level folks, either...so this is all over our heads, too, even if we try to help....don't shoot the messenger, I'm trying to help folks get jobs...


10/4 Todd,

13/2 & 18/2 are just another way of saying 13/13 and 18/8. What they're
referring to is the government option to extend the person another 2 pay
periods beyond the guaranteed appointment. Employee does not have any
choice in this, it's a government option, and is spelled out in the
seasonal employment agreement that all perm seasonals sign when they get
their job.


10/4 Separate issues, as I stated earlier and some misconceptions with UI and appointments.

First, to Eyes on the Woods:

Appointments do NOT have to be tied to pay grade. There are 26/0 full time, year around GS-3s. There are 18/8 GS-9 Helitack Sups. Don't tie in grade with appointments, they are not necessarily linked. There are no 18/2 (doesn't add up to 26 pay periods).

Beating a dead horse:

It is not legal to require an employee to work beyond their appointment, like I said earlier, without the employee agreeing to it. If an employee wants to work more or less than their appointment, the government must agree to it. If the government wants to work the employee more or less than their appointment, they must agree to it. So, if you have a wintertime job commitment such as working at a ski resort, you can tell the USFS, "no thanks, see you in May" if they want you to work more than your 13 pay periods.


You are right on. A temp is basically laid off with no prospect on being hired back in the future. There is no guarantee of rehire in the summer, so UI should be readily available if they can't find other work. As far as permanent seasonals go, just like MJ stated earlier, if you explain to the Unemployment agency that: you will be returning to work with the government in spring, you have a two week training in late winter and you are having difficulty finding a potential employer that can accept the fact that you don't know when you will start and you may have to attend a couple of random trainings mid-winter, they will usually not make the search for work mandatory on your two week UI claims.

Other truths on this thread:

Not working in the winter for the feds is difficult because you have to pay for your insurance later and no money is going into your TSP, worth considering if you do turn down an extended appointment.

It's up to you. Know your rights and make the decision that is best for you. Like the other old timers said, do what you can to work as long as you can in to the winter for the feds, and this eventually pays off.

Other terms for Unemployment Benefits or UI: The Governor's Ski Team, Fun Enjoyment.


10/4 I have a hard time feeling sorry for the folks that want to get laid off,
but are being told there is work and funding for them............. Quit
whining folks, Unemployment is for the folks that can't get work. That's
the law, whether you like it or not.

I do feel sorry for the folks that want to work, but are on Forests that
don't have the budget to keep them going (there's always enough work).

10/4 What's 18/2?

I heard someone, maybe a R5 HR person refer to that. Is there also a 13/2?


10/4 I strongly recommend everyone read the "They Said's" This is long but
important info for the UI debate. by Fish

I have nothing to add to it. It is all true, DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE
LESS THAN 40 HOUR SITUATION just because you want to work, and
for FERS folks, try to work full time (year around) for your TSP. It is your
retirement. Unemployment does not pay into TSP.


10/4 More info. Do the appointments have to do with pay grade in R5?...

26/0 are GS-8 and 7
18/8 also known as 18/2 are GS-6
13/13 are GS-5 and below

As I understand it, the only 13/13 positions in R5 are the Apprentices,
plus a lookout here and there, at least on my forest.

Eyes on the Woods

10/4 Trying to Make a Career / Overit,

So you're being required to do a 26/0 job on a 13/13 appointment?

It is good for retirement, but this all should be worked out ahead of time to be fair.


10/4 SuperP,

I am not talking about the two extra pay periods as you can see in my lower statement I am all about sticking around to meet targets. They are telling me ALL WINTER! That is what I am talking about.

Once again, I understand why some people are offended that I bring this issue up at all but my biggest gripe is that all of the overhead I know high and low use unemployment in the winter as a recruitment ploy. I challenge the PFT's to go to those who, all summer, expected to be laid off and promised their loved ones a winter commitment with out funky hours and long commutes, how they truly feel about the misconception. Yes there are those who will say "I want to work all winter" because they care about time in grade. But there are those that don't and have a different quality of life that is more important to them than a gs level. If you know your folks you know the difference between the two. Ask them to refrain from telling you what they think you want to hear.

I also encourage those who are at my level to weigh in... if they don't read this page encourage them to. If nothing else we can stop this unemployment being used as a recruitment tool.

10/4 $$$,

Do folks out there really understand that Unemployment in R5 pays more than a GS-6 wage?....quite a bit more if you defer your taxes...smaller return later but more money for bills and the holidays when you need it....Not sure if this is a good selling point for a career....but wait till you see the SUNSETS! *excuse me, I threw up in my mouth a little bit...*

As for working two extra pay periods.... IT'S OUR JOB. It's totally legal for 13/13 and 18/8 folks to be held for two extra PP's if there is work.... or money. That's just the way it is...whether you like it or not or do anything at all.

If folks out there made more than an Unemployment check by going to work, this conversation wouldn't be happening..... again..... and again..... and again...

Sign me,
Beating a Dead Horse With Sunsets.
10/4 While y'all talk about layoffs, it is dry, dry, dry in the southeast. Get your packs in order (don't forget your long johns, about the coldest I've ever been has been mopping up at night in the Appalachians in October or November) and refresh your knowledge of the language:

> Far: sustained combustion; rapid oxidation as in “That far done burned 50 acres.”

> Far ‘erup: to start something as in “Run down to that pump in the crik and far’erup”

> Crank: another way to say start something: “My pick’emup truck ain't gonna crank.”

> Hit’eralick: a fireline construction technique as in “Y’all jist hit’eralick, and we’ll get this line tied in.”

> Yourmama’n ‘em: relatives as in “How’s yourmama’n ‘em?” (You can’t talk very long with southerners without getting into relatives.)

> Virginia ham: essentially ham jerky as in “Virginia ham is in our lunch sacks ag’in; we gotta stop by McDonalds on the way to the far.”

> Carry: to drive someone in a car as in “I’ll carry y’all back to camp.”

> Fershur’n’certain: this will definitely happen as in “If y’all can’t get this line in, the far’s goin’ over the hill fershur’n’certain.

> Holler: like a canyon, narrow and steep ground as in “We’ll tie in with y’all back up that holler.”

> Fire camp: usually a Best Western although sometimes it can be Bates Motel.

Still Out there as an AD
10/4 I challenge each module (crew, engine, helitack, jumper or other) to pledge what you can to support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and Ken Perry's run. I especially challenge the Fire Directors, the FFMOs. the FAFMOs, the DFMOs, the ADFMOs and others who are in a position of leadership..... Show that you care and who you care about.... the troops and the families care about your actions.

I know for many of us it has been a slow year... I also know for many others it has been a record year for overtime.... For all of us, it has been 2007, just another year. Some of us lost friends this year.... some have lost friends in the past. All of us may lose friends in the future and care about the families and friends left behind.

Whether or not it is a slow year or busy year, our friends and family members die in the line of duty each and every year.

Give what you can to support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

/s/ Hotshot Challenge
10/4 Regarding the Hwy 18 crew buggy rollover:

It's 0324 and I've got 6 minutes to do this and get on the road to catch another flight, I'd like to just say thanks for a job well done. The leadership and professionalism shown Monday was beyond outstanding. Del Rosa, Big Bear, E12, E16 and especially to JRod and Crew 534 I don't know what else to say, you are true hero's. To Chief Dennen and his folks, thanks for being at there with us when the helicopters arrived and the support you all gave to me and the other BCs/DCs at the hospital and at the accident site.

I'll never understand how a Forest Leadership meeting was more important than eight injured firefighters, be it a broken nail or broken leg, nothing should stop our own top brass from being there for the troops. No excuses needed or wanted. I get the priorities and understand where we stand. Fire Restrictions over Firefighters. Dudes and Dudettes, I'm not top brass but I will be there for you always no matter what. I went way over time, now I've got to haul a$s to catch the flight.

Betty A
aka BatGrl12

Thanks to all who helped on that rescue. Happy traveling, BatGrl12. May you all and the bagpipes shine for us at that east coast memorial event. Ab.

10/4 This is long but important info for the UI debate.

Unemployment for seasonal < 26/0 tours (not 1039) hr appointments used to be an easy choice. Before the FERS retirement, us old folks were on the CSRS retirement plan. We received credit for our "off" time just like we were working 26/0. When we retired we got 2.5% of our high three X how many years for the 1st 20 years & 2%/ yr. after, including the lay off time. When CA weekly benefits went up to over $400/ week most of us in less than 26/0 tours took the lay off happily, as it did not affect our final pension calculations.

FERS is a different animal. It is extremely import to get the 26/0 tour.
The FERS retirement depends on your ability to max out the TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) and receive the Agency matching contribution.

You still receive your FERS 1.3% FF credit for service for lay off, but losing the matching TSP monies over many years will be critical to your final pension worth. If offered off season employment take it. The one big point is: Never ever accept a less than 40 hr tour/week. If you are kept on past your appointment never be put into a part-time tour. NEVER!! This is a tour where you are guaranteed less than 40/week. If this happens, when you retire, you will only receive credit for the actual time worked whereas if you were laid off, you would receive credit for the full 40 week.

This happened to me and several others because we had a FMO who did not want to pay us UI benefits (Unemployment Insurance) and decided to work us 24 per week just to get us off the UI roles. Since the FS was offering work, UI said either work or go hungry because if you are offered work NO UI!. We were 13/13's and this went on for 5 years. So when I retired instead of receiving FULL credit for my off season I only received credit for actual hours worked. (24 vs.40). That was a huge penalty because of the way OPM calculates the PT (Part Time) hours. I lost 10% month in my annuity. That's a permanent reduction.. you do the math but over a retirement lifetime, a significant loss of $$. If this ever comes up in your career, file a grievance.. do something. WE had no idea of the consequence of PT work until we were near retirement. OPM could hot help us because they can't change law. Don't let it happen to you.


Thanks very much for this critical information. I added some explanations for acronyms. Ab.

10/4 To Mitigator from 9/22.

Concerning firebreaks, weeds, and the placement of homes.

Congratulations on playing a part in preventing the loss of homes during the Angel fire in San Diego County. There was some excellent fire fighting out there as well as pre-fire planning on part of the community and local agencies. There’s no question fuel breaks are frequently helpful, and the sunrise fuel break definitely played an important role in keeping slope driven flames from entering the community and providing an anchor point for suppression action.


But I think you may be incorrectly interpreting some of the concern over fuel breaks and the spread of non-native weeds. As you obviously know, successful fire suppression and fire risk reduction is based on a full tool kit of strategies and methods. Sometimes fuel breaks work, sometimes they don’t. Knowing that, it is important to evaluate the total fire environment when the protection of a community is involved.

I know you can probably find countless other examples of when fuel breaks have worked successfully. But the real question is not whether or not they work sometimes, but what relative contribution to they make during successful fire suppression efforts. That has never been examined scientifically. Until it is, the best we can say is that fuel breaks are just a part of the total fire suppression tool box. Are they the most cost effective solution when looking at the total picture? We really don’t know that.

The problem with emphasizing the Angel fire as slam dunk evidence that fuel breaks are the way to go (not that you are, but such a viewpoint is definitely held by some) is that someone else can use the same argument to point in the other direction, saying fuel breaks/treatments are ineffective. For example, why didn’t the extensive fuel treatments conducted by the USFS and other agencies prevent the loss of homes in the Angora fire in South Lake Tahoe? Well, not because fuel breaks/treatments are worthless, but because other variables became more important during that fire (poorly designed homes, yard garbage, etc.).

The fuel-centric angle to fire suppression can be exploited even further, and is by particular special interest groups. The smoke had not cleared from the Angora fire before one well-known timber industry advocate toured the area criticizing the USFS and other government agencies for failing to do their job by not cutting down more trees. It’s all about brush and trees with this guy. It doesn’t matter that fire agencies had done a tremendous job trying to make surrounding wildlands fire-safe. His point was to hammer firefighters, environmentalists, and water board members in order to influence public policy to help increase sales for the forest product companies he represents.

The lack of solid data allows guys like this to promote a particular view of the world that is detrimental to both firefighters and communities in fire-prone areas. Fortunately, USGS is now conducting an involved research effort to help determine which fuel reduction strategies are the most successful. This will hopefully produce enough information to help balance the discussion concerning fuel modification efforts.

Fuel breaks are scars on the landscape. Consequently, they should be used sparingly.


Non-native, invasive species have certainly naturalized. This is why they are so invasive. There’s really no debate about that. I’m not aware of the hybridization you mentioned, however. The question is what impact invasive weeds have on fire behavior, natural habitat, and aesthetics.

We know what invasive weeds have done in the lower elevation deserts: increased both the frequency and size of wildfires to the detriment of natural communities. The Great Basin is becoming an ecological disaster as a result. Invasive weeds are also intimately involved in increased fire risk in Southern California. Fine fuels are where a lot of wildfires start their initial run. The guy who started the Esperanza fire was well aware of that fact.

Fire intensity is obviously reduced in fine fuels, but they are also a common denominator if firefighter fatalities. Fuel breaks invaded by weeds can certainly help slow down fires and provide opportunities for fire suppression activities, but the decision to design and build them needs to be balanced with all the other variables in the particular fire environment. What may work in the rocky terrain near Julian (sunrise fuel break) will not be appropriate for the front country of the San Bernardino National Forest.

Concerning aesthetics, we can’t really argue because it is a matter of taste. But frankly, non-native weed covered landscapes like you see along the front country of the San Bernardino or crawling up the hills around the Miramar Air Base in San Diego really sadden me. Not only because they look ill, but because the wonderful diversity of life that once existed there no longer exists.


Regarding the placement of homes you wrote, “These same groups seek to stop the building of your fire safe home/cabin on that parcel your family has had to pay payments and taxes for generations. (read It's unsafe, it never should have been built there in the first place! ) This in a county where over 50% of the lands are managed and provide habitat by BLM, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, State Parks, State Fish and Game, County and City Parks.”

This is where we definitely disagree. Being a group of one who believes homes should not be built in high fire-risk areas, I support limits on private property rights when they negatively impact the safety of others or the long term needs of society. We already have zoning laws for this very reason. Whether or not someone has paid loan payments and taxes on a parcel is not particularly relevant. That does not give them the right to use the property in a way that will pose a public safety risk.

If the Esperanza house had been permitted with the qualifier that no public fire protection would be provided, fine, but that’s not the way of things. The planning department’s decision to permit the place and allow private property rights to trump firefighter safety was the direct cause of the loss of our five brothers, no matter what the reports have said. The house should have never been built.

The landslide that destroyed one home and damaged several others today on Mt. Soledad in San Diego fortunately didn’t kill anyone. As with high fire risk areas, the instability of the soils there has been known for years, yet the planning department has turned a blind eye and allowed private property rights to trump logic. Again, that would be fine except for the fact that these kinds of stupid decisions are unnecessarily risking lives of people who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Ringing a familiar tone, geologist Pat Abbott said, “It’s a geologically bad site and should not have been built on to begin with.”

I know you know that fire risk reduction requires a full tool box. Where we part is that this needs to include zoning laws that prevent death traps from being built in unsafe areas.

10/4 Re: JE on overtime

<Standing in front of my computer and applauding!>

Well said!

10/4 Everyone seems to be focused on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial this weekend, but there is another memorial coming up the following weekend that I think we should give attention to also.

Gerald Martinez, FMO on the Custer National Forest, Sioux RD, died of a heart attack on July 18, 2005 while on a fire assignment in Colorado. He left behind his wife Lynn and his son Jake. Jerry will be honored and his name will be put on the South Dakota Fallen Firefighters Memorial on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 2:00 pm in Pierre, South Dakota. I would like to encourage anyone who lives in the area to please attend and show this family what the Forest Service family is all about. They haven't seen a whole lot of support since Jerry died and I would like to see this rectified. My daughter Montana and I will be flying there and we hope to see some other Forest Service folks there too.

Lori Greeno
10/4 The thread on employee length of tour is interesting.

I am now retired from the FS, but I must have started in a different era.

I was first hired in 1972 as a 180 day temp. I worked 3 straight years as a temp without a lay-off. Not a single day. This was back when the Personnel shop was actually on the district. Not even a forest-level function yet. Then I got a 13/13 appointment on another forest. Worked 4 years straight without any layoffs -- couldn't get laid off even if you asked to be. Year 7 took a promotion to another forest as an 18/8. Worked all through the first year. The 2nd Winter as an 18/8 I was laid off for the first time in my 10 year FS career -- for 6 weeks. The next year 2 months. That was the last time I was ever laid off. Eventually I was PFT.

I was farmed out to other shops over those winters, where I learned a lot of 'ologist' stuff that did help me be a better firefighter. And later a better fire manager. The timber shop paid for me to go back to college and later grad work, even though I was a 'fire guy' that only worked for them in the winter. They appreciated my fire/fuels viewpoint in project design and I used my natural resource experiences in fire decision making. I like to think everyone benefited.

Too much polarization among the various disciplines now. The sense of teamwork just doesn't seem there anymore. Too bad. At one time the job was fun and interesting, both during fire season and off-season. From the number of posts here complaining, those days must be gone.


10/4 Mellie,

As far as health benefits go, they are year round, even for the seasonals. They must pay for them while in non-pay status. They can either do this month to month or wait until they come back to work and then have it taken out of their paychecks. This is usually done over several pay periods.

Nothing gets paid into retirement unless they are working. I'm not sure about TSP. I could check and let you know.

As far as survival - we did it on a 13/13 GS-5 with a family of 4 for a couple of years. It was tight and we did make ends meet, but Thank God for our tax refund!! We always filed ASAP and got our refund in February, so that helped out. As time went by, the GS level got higher as did the time that John worked.

Don't forget that not only is OT not figured into OWCP, but it also isn't figured into death pay. When you get retirement, you get 40% of base pay at a disability retirement level. Not much, I can tell you that. If you can go the OWCP route, much better deal.

Also, I want everyone to know that if you are disabled on the job, you can file for PSOB benefits. I don't think anyone knows that and I am trying to spread the word. I know a couple of people that it could have really helped, but there are time limits. I'm hoping that it can be fought and won as they were never informed by their forest that this was available to them.

So, just some facts. Hope it helps.


Thanks Lori. The bold and underline in the last PSOB paragraph are mine. Ab.

10/4 Overit,

I have to agree with the post by Bummed, the rains have come... When you signed on the dotted line as a 13/13, you agreed to the agency being able to extend another 2 pay periods. As a taxpayer myself, it really bothers me when someone is looking to get something for nothing. I also must say that as an engine captain in California, I see my temps and apprentices bringing more home in a pay period on unemployment than I do on a base 80 check and sure I would love to have 6 months off and make more money, but I alone made the decision to accept year round employment when I accepted this position. Unemployment is not meant to be a semi-permanent source of income. There is this thing called life and the American way. We all have the ability to choose what we do, but we also must be willing to accept the consequences of our choices.

My advice is to suck it up and work the extra 2 pay periods the agency is offering, and then go on your vacation!

10/3 Unemployment or as we used to call it “Unenjoyment"

I have to respond here to the young ones. Don’t take this “As the old timers did” but

Many years ago when I was a 13/13, unemployment if I remember right paid about $132 a week. I was supporting a family and in times of tight budgets, we were held to our tours. With the approval of my supervisor, when I heard of layoffs I used to go down to the district office and solicit any work I could find from different departments. I remember one rec officer who became a Forest Sup (Thanks Marybieth) must have felt sorry for me and would give me a pay period or 2 of work building fence, trail or campground work. God bless her, I needed the money.

I made my own choice of careers and I am glad I did.

The district allowed my family to live at a station that was closed for the winter rent free if I performed security and maintenance. I was very happy to provide that service. (Top Ramon by the case.)

I think our new employees have a different view on things and I understand that. My children were raised to work for what they want and what they have. I have some in college and some on the way and wouldn’t change anything, looking back. They were taught if you want it, go get it, don’t sit on your a$s and wait for it to come to you as a free check.

10/3 Responding to MJ:

Your comments are accurate and understandable. I have no issue with
accepting the terms of the multi-page contract I signed, including a one
sided mobility agreement.

However, your comment about us not accepting a PFT appointment
implies that we have a choice. Where are the forest service Jobs that are
full time at the lower levels? where are the Forest service 26/0 or even
18/8 GS 3, 4, 5 fire jobs? I am one that would gladly take such a position.

*But then there are the People all around me that would scream if I
got it because I haven't served as much time as they have.*

You Offer us advice on a less-than-perfect system and then criticize us for
doing our best for making it come out slightly in our favor.

P.S. If we don't, who will? Our supervisor that only sees us on an
average of a month a year, as we bounce from crew to crew to meet our
apprentice needs? Or maybe it is our Mandatory mentor who someone from
somewhere chose for us, Based on some questionnaire. Or maybe It is those
who were hired outside of the apprentice program and it took them twice as
long to get their GS-5 as it takes us now. Those exceptionally have great
positive attitudes toward us. (sarcasm intended).

I apologize for the rant. However, this topic is one of great interest, as
it is my life.

I stumbled on this job by accident and for whatever reason have become
very passionate about this job and would like to have a career. If I was not
passionate, I don't think I would have stayed with an agency which treats
its people the way this one does.

My last comment I'll say before I step off my soap box is this:
It has been my experience that those who want to help, don't have the position
of authority to do so, and those that have the position of authority don't want
to help.

Trying to make a career

10/3 Do I have this right? Is this true for all federal fire positions or only FS? How do these permanent positions differ from seasonal or temporary hires? How might unemployment differ for a 13/13 permanent vs a temporary seasonal (1039 hours - 180 days less 1 hour) firefighter?

Here's what I understand about permanent fire hires (Permanent Full Time or PFT), whose category of employment is named by their work status, or pay periods on / off the job:

There are 26 pay periods per year. A pay period is 2 weeks. All employees that are hired by the Forest Service as permanent employees are PFTs. That includes

  • 26/0 (26 on and 0 off), that is, they work full time year round, have a work status of 26/0 and are paid for every one of the 26 pay periods and get benefits.
  • 18/8 (18 on and 8 off), permanent seasonal but work full time (when in work status).
  • 13/13 (13 on and 13 off). 13/13 means actually employed and work full time for a minimum of half the pay periods possible, thus permanent seasonal.

When I asked her about the difference between 13/13 and temporary hire (1039 hours), Lori said

Unemployment for a seasonal employee - 18/8 or 13/13 - does not require them to look for work while they are laid off as they have a permanent position to which they will be returning. Temp employees must look for work, just like anyone else on unemployment.

How exactly does health insurance and benefits like retirement play out?

The hiring and retention issue has been around for longer than me. Here were Greg Greenhoe's suggestions from 1999.

So how is anyone supposed to survive on half a year's pay? Oh yeah, Overtime... What if there is no overtime? What if someone gets hurt and can't work the rest of their life? OT doesn't figure into OWCP calculations.

It's been 5 years or so since I tried to figure this all out. I'm sure there are others reading who have the same questions.


10/3 Ab -

With all the people in the Cascade Complex ICP "Burn By" taking videos and photos I'm surprised so few have been posted at wildlandfire.com. <snip identifying info> Many people who were at the burn by had down-loaded their video and photos onto the laptops at the Comm Unit.

I brought home a DVD with about 30 minutes of videos and almost 2 thousand photos of the event!

Unfortunately, I do not know who took these photos or videos so I can't give them proper credit.

I've taken several of the videos and photos and pieced them together into a 15:40 minute Windows Media Audio/Video file of the highlights of the burn by.

This video file is 220 meg.

AK Old Timer

Two versions of this almost 16 minute video are linked below. Both are Windows Media Audio/Video files. The video includes the briefing and gives a feel for how the ICP staff handled the experience at the time.

Smaller/ Lower quality:
First is a more compressed version that OA made of the original video AK Old Timer sent in.
It is still very large at 39 megabytes:


Huge, but Higher quality:
Here's the original that AK Oldtimer sent in. Do not try this if you have dialup.
HUmonGous FILE at 228 megabytes, but higher quality:


We'll see how this works. Many thanks, AK Old Timer. Ab.

10/3 NWCG course revision information is now posted (pdf file)

It's linked from this page: www.fire.blm.gov/training/twt/sect_training_curriculum.php


10/3 Re: Unemployment

Most temps in North Zone of Calif. do not get winter jobs, since unemployment pays so well in Calif. Once the forest is done with you, extra 2 PP's or not, when you go to file for unemployment, make sure they understand you are on a seasonal layoff. They will put you in a special category, and you will NOT be required to look for work each week, as long as you are willing to return to your seasonal employer when requested. If you do not tell them you are on a seasonal layoff, they will require you to look for work every 2 weeks. I know, I went thru this for years. On my Forest, we would love to keep folks on longer...But we get rained and snowed out of most project work here. On top of that, we are only budgeted for the tours folks agreed to when they took the jobs....So, we have to lay folks off. Simple as this...If you are not willing to be laid off, do not accept less than a Permanent-full time job!! When you sign on to be a temporary or seasonal firefighter, the Agency makes it clear that you will be working less than year-round.


10/3 Misc IMWTK

I just talked with Dad (Dale Jarrell) about the 9/26 post on the "Rogue IC." He said that he doesn't remember John Russell being in Yellowstone, so Dale is the only Rogue that I know of (refusing to work with Area Command until he got a Delegation of Authority). I'm glad to know that others view him to be "remarkable" - I know I do :)

He also said that he became a Type 1 IC at the age of 44, so he doesn't qualify as the youngest, but he thinks he is one of the first ICs (vs Fire Bosses). He and John Russell were the first to teach the "new" ICS system at Marana.


10/3 We should be satisfied with eating remembered sunsets even during the laid off periods.
I heard unemployment costs the FS 80% of what permanent full time would cost...


10/3 Hello all,

Been working hard lately and only really had time to lurk since I have been at FLETC and field training and all of the other training I have gone thru.

I have been intrigued by the 13/13 unemployment, etc debate that appears to be going on.

As some of you may know, I left the fire world with the USFS to pursue LEO work with the USFS. However, while I was in fire, I did temp seasonal time on a shot crew, engine, type 2 crew, and a fire use module. During those times, I fought tooth and nail to stay employed and hated being laid off. I only took the unemployment avenue one winter because the rest of the time I was in school and could not get it. I looked for other work but was unable to get it because I planned on going back to fire for the next season.

I moved into an apprentice position after 4 years as a temp. It was something I needed to do. However, I had a hard time figuring out what the other 13/13 employees were thinking by getting laid off. At that rate, I saw it would take 50 years to retire!! That is why I would always work if there was ANYTHING to do. I planned on moving up in the fire world and didn't think I could afford to get laid off.

I took the LEO position for a multitude of reasons. I liked the people in the LEO world, I could still stay connected to the fire folks, the pay was better, and I got a PFT position. I had JUST accepted a Sr. Firefighter position where I was when I applied to the LEO job. I was only able to get the LEO job because of that (merit vs. demo cert) and once I accepted, I had many unhappy folks telling me how messed up I was for taking the Sr. FF job and then leaving. I had to explain that I was looking towards the future and showed them the pay scale. I pointed out the fact that I would be a GS-9 in 3 years as opposed to 15 years in fire. Some were still angry, but most shrugged and said that they would have done the same thing if they were into LE work.

Back on track again. I hope that those 13/13 folks out there are looking at the fact that they should work as much as they can to keep up with the 20 year retirement that the FF/LEOs get.

Hope all of the fire folks are doing great and that the OT was sufficient enough. I worked my butt off in training and now that I am back, I have a lot more work to do.


PS: I miss fires and helicopters
10/3 Unemployment issue and beyond...

I wanted to point out an angle of this that has yet to be mentioned. Since the Forest Service has chosen to use the Apprenticeship as a hiring tool (another topic altogether), it has changed a lot of other things. As a person that has gone through the program (with no fire experience prior), I have had to balance the off-season needs of the program ie.. academy and other miscellaneous training through the winter.

I would challenge anyone who is on a high horse to

  • try to find a temporary off-season job in some of the rural, economically depressed areas that we call home, much less
  • tell an off-season employer "i need a month off here and two weeks there and the government can call me back to work anytime they want."

I don't want to talk for other people, but I have the experience of having no choice and I didn't enjoy it. But on the
other hand, why should I be made to feel guilty by myself or anyone else for having to play by Uncle Sam's rules.

I think sometimes people forget the hoops we ask a lot of young people (apprentices) to go through to earn the privilege of working year round for the pay you 26/0 permanents make. Yet our young people sit as a second class to both 1049 seasonals and permanents alike. I have many feelings about the apprentice program and using one tool to meet multiple objectives, however that is, as I say, another topic.

My ultimate point is this: if we want to retain the people we are pouring all of this time and money into, maybe we should consider how the other half has to live.

Trying to make a career

10/3 The Jobs Page as well as the Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
10/3 Hi Ab,

I wanted to let folks know that we have Engine 57 stickers, t-shirts, and the ability to make personalized window decals for folks wishing to commemorate the anniversary of the first year since we lost five courageous firefighters; Mark Loutzenhiser, Jess McLean, Jason McKay, Daniel Hoover-Najera, and Pablo Cerda. The anniversary of the Esperanza Fire is October 26. We have been in touch with the families and will connect with them at the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation Family Memorial weekend – October 5-7.

Proceeds from the sale of these items allow the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to continue to provide financial assistance, as well as ongoing support, to the families of fallen firefighters and firefighters injured while performing their duties.

We thank each of you who support the Foundation through; your membership in the 52 Club, supporting Ken’s Run, direct donations, and supporting the efforts of many crews (agency and contract) who have done run/walks, golf scrambles, poker tournaments, and other various fundraisers.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
10/3 Ab,

What has been the end of commitment date for aircraft in SoCal in past years?


10/3 More clarification from Overit,

It's not the two extra pay periods. I am fine with that, I want to meet our burn targets just like everyone else. It's into December and beyond when the Forest is soaked and covered in snow, all of the PFTs are on vacation and I am sitting in the station alone. It's not my work ethic... it's exactly the opposite, the meaningless days in the station during the winter are the worst. I feel like there is nothing meaningful for me to do at the station and it is far more worth it for me to spend time with my family.

The PFT's I work for and with are usually busy bees through out the winter with all sorts of projects or prepping for next season. But because they never really think they will keep me past Thanksgiving, I am given no meaningful responsibility for the winter months.

There are those who want to work as much as possible for different reasons, time in grade, to stay busy, have no family, enjoy winter boredom at the station with random burn days. That's fine. But the way the agency is recruiting is by telling people that the awesome thing about taking a 13/13, such as the apprenticeship is that they can get laid off in the winter. So they talk people into thinking it is the best of both worlds (winter and summer). It's a great sales pitch, it's how they sold me. It is how they land great folks who are not sure they want a full time position and then are able to mentor them to decide if they want to continue to progress to a PFT position.

If people were up front when recruiting and sold it as, if you take a perm job there is a "chance" you might get laid off, I would be a little more understanding. And by the way, it's not just me, it is every 13/13 I personally have talked to thus far that feels this way.

Instead the forest, at the last minute, has decided to alter our winter plans. Now instead of keeping the commitment I made to my family, because of misleading overhead, I will have to burn all of my leave and use some LWOP. I was not told of winter staffing plans until October. And it was until now that my FMO told me and my supervisor that once my commitment was up I had the option to be laid off, with unemployment options, just like in the past many years (according to folks who have worked here a long time). It's almost like they are panicked. They have terrible staffing problems in the PFT area (that's only getting worse) and they are forcing us to stick around to make up for the agency's shortfalls.

Heck, I would get another job in the winter if I could predict when they were going to dump me. In fact this year I already turned down two opportunities because I could not give them an answer of how long I was going to be kept on with the FS and when I could start for them. But with the unpredictability of management decisions, how can I responsibly plan things like that? So don't slam people for unemployment... it's the only sure thing... at least it was.

We have very few perks to offer, let's keep what we can. The truth is, if we don't start taking care of the new guys... there won't be any.

Yea, I understand unemployment in the winter might seem like a cop-out... then stop using it it a selling point!


PS on seeing the post just posted: Goodsup

Then why in the past even when there is work... to take care of their folks they did lay us off with unemployment... even though there was work? They use it as a selling point and would make good on it regardless of the work load. I know it's within their rights but the unpredictability is bad business.

Thanks for the official word, though. :)

10/3 Overit,

National Policy: You agree to work 13 pay periods. The government agrees to hire you for 13 pay periods. If you want to work more or less the government has to agree to that. If they want you to work more or less you have to agree to that. So, anything different than 13 pay periods must be agreed upon by both parties. As far as unemployment goes, you are not allowed to receive unemployment if an employer is offering you work. So, you don't have to work beyond 13 pay periods, but you can't collect unemployment if work is offered.


10/3 Leo Drapeau in regard to the hotstick technology and OC in regard to the "just one more time" poem by Oliver both say much appreciated and thanks. Ab.
10/3 Ab note:

I will not post flames or rants regarding the air resources severity letter.

I want facts and any information that constitutes Lessons Learned from past events. I want it in a civil and logical way. I understand that Santa Ana winds, the 2003 firestorm, and use of ERCs in the letter (instead of BI), the models used to arrive at the decision to cost cut, and the distinction between "severity/non-severity stations" are important facts that need to be listed and discussed.

Contributors, please lay out your points as the leaders and professionals you are, so they can go on record and we can potentially point to a better, more informed choice.

10/3 Overit,

Can't totally agree with laid offs comments but I will say one thing. If you expect to get a paid winter vacation after fire season and are not willing to finish the job you started go find another job. The problem you seem to have has a pretty simple remedy. Finish the season out, earn a bit more money, MAYBE get a late season assignment which are always the best, then settle in fat and happy on the agency's dime. You might even try to supplement that rocking chair money by finding some part time employment. Lastly, update your resume so when those 18/8,20/6,or PFT jobs come out you can get yourself out of the seasonal lay-off cycle. Unless you happen to be the kind of person that enjoys the time off which there is nothing wrong with.

I was in the same shoes as you with a 13/13 appointment several years ago and never asked to be laid off early. You might find that being a bitter ender will actually get you more work in the long run.

FMO Joeboy

10/3 Re: Laid off

I totally understand your belief about year 'round work and maintaining the professionalism and strength of the force even in the winter months. Let me tell you, it's like pulling teeth trying to keep the folks on we need to accomplish burning, even with funds available. But the truth of the matter is this...As a 3, 4, 5, even 6, one would have more cash in pocket from UNEMPLOYMENT to pay the winter bills than one would have working 40 hour weeks, and the temps will make almost 1/3 more (and we all know they don't get any benefits)...not working. Now, I understand that with TSP, Insurance, etc., staying on is the better option, especially for the perms, (which is why I will continue working), but it's the cash that pays the bills and I would get to visit and reconnect with long lost friends and family. You must admit that unemployment is a perk a to this career, one that even with 600+ hours of overtime you're still below the federal poverty level. In fact, I believe the FS lists it as a benefit on its careers page of the website.

still employed (and thankful...I think)
10/3 Unemployment vs Employment

Ab's for the most part I would agree with--> Bummed the rains have come but now I get to go on to other adventures in life.

I would like to see more of our ranks (Senior FF and above) with 26/0 appointments. With the only exception or understanding to allow employees to return to college during the off season without retirement penalties. I didn't feel right the one year I took unemployment after I got laid off. For the next 3 years as a temporary FF I worked, however I worked for the Forest Service as a Rec Tech, or within the Engineering Staff. This was prior to the 1039 hr appointment started. This was also before unemployment benefits paid so much.

We pay our Federal Firefighters so little, they make more on unemployment in Ca then getting a base check from the Feds. That is the truth and that is pathetic. Although as policy I disagree with the fact that unemployment handed out so freely. It should be for the truly needy and those with families.

However, how can you blame our 13/13's for taking unemployment when Uncle Sammy gives them 11-14 bucks an hour to be a FIREFIGHTER. Tell me of another fire service agency that pays a Firefighter 11-14 bucks an hour? Tell me of any police agency that pays it's Police Officers 11-14 bucks an hour? It's disgusting and disgraceful to Americas largest group of emergency responders.

Full time Professional Firefighters in an appropriate work series with a living wage (not unemployment) needs to be addressed.


10/3 I would like some clarification from Overit.

Are you saying that you are bummed out that you may not be able to collect unemployment for 2 pay periods because your forest has work for you?

Am I as a taxpayer, and firefighter, supposed to feel sorry for you because you are only going to have a 5 month paid vacation instead of a 6 month paid vacation?

I too wish that I could have more time off in the winter, like the old days, but I know there is a ton of work to be done on the forest in the winter. So much so that now days I never get to use all my leave, I donate it, because I have too much work to do. When I was a 13/13 we used to scratch and claw to get winter work, on the forest or not. If your forest has the work and funds to work 13/13s it is their prerogative to work you, if you do not like it, resign. Or you could embrace the fact that you are doing what you signed up to do, work on a forest.

If we need to grant 13 pay periods of paid vacation (unemployment) for retention, we are trying to retain the wrong people.

Around here many of our folks leave for the opposite reason, they want to work year round. Some don't and some really don't want to work at all, they just want the pay check and benefits...

I don't care if we retain that sort.

10/3 laid off,

School teachers get paid for their summers off. It is either included in their pay
during the school year or given to them as a paycheck during the summer
depending on what they have negotiated with the school district..

schoolteachers wildland FF husband
10/3 Passing of a Lookout


We lost a good one yesterday. (10/1/07)

Steve Robinson, Crater Lake National Park Fire Lookout, long-time
naturalist, and friend passed away from a short but valiant battle with
pancreatic cancer.

He embraced life in song and with patience, stood up for what he believed
in, and lived as we all should, with compassion.

For those of us lucky to have known him, he'll always be singing, and
watching his forest.


Brad Reed
Fire Management Officer
Crater Lake National Park

Thanks for sharing Steve with us. I enjoyed browsing his music and seeing family photos. In the midst of sadness can be celebration for a life well lived. Ab.

10/3 In reference to the air resources severity letter:

N109Z, H-509, Air Attack 509, Firewatch 509 are all one helicopter based at WJF on the ANF. Different monikers are used depending on assignment.

If the platform is assigned as an ATGS it uses AA-509, if it is assigned in the wiz bang mission mode (IR, mapping, live video / IR feed, intelligence gathering, etc) it uses Firewatch 509, if it is assigned as a HLCO it uses Helicopter 509 or HELCO.

This is as per the R5 operating plan for the Firewatch Cobras.

Where do the numbers "509" come from? National MOB guide. In the MOB guide Air Attack platforms are to use the Region # that they are from followed by the last two numerical digits of the aircraft "N".

So N109Z and H-509 are one helicopter......

10/2 Re Air Resources
Sent in by letterman:

Date: September 28, 2007
Subject: Contract Extensions for Exclusive Use Aviation Resources
To: Forest Supervisors, Forest Fire Management Officers

As we deal with preparedness planning for FY08, cost effective and timely coordination of our aviation resources during this fall fire season is paramount. At this time, the Region does not plan to extend any aviation exclusive use contracts beyond their scheduled Mandatory Availability Period with the exception of Firewatch N109Z and H509 located in South Zone and H510 located in North Zone.

This decision is based on:

1. Current ERCs;
2. Present and predicted weather;
3. Mandatory Availability Period of the additional National Helicopter Contracts;
4. Mandatory Availability of current Airtanker fleet;
5. Programmed normal attrition (MAP) dates of our exclusive use Helicopters/ATGS aircraft and airtankers.

In most PSAs, ERCs have dropped significantly with recent moisture. If predicted weather arrives, ERCs will continue to be at or below average. If predicted weather does not come in, ERCs will rebound and trend up above average depending on North and East wind events. We will continue to assess the need for these resources through the fall season.

/s/ Willie R. Thompson (for)
Director, Fire and Aviation Management

cc: <snip, a long list>

10/2 Ab-

For those of you still following this topic. Interesting how they are confiscating a few
birds when there are millions crossing the border each day on the wing.



Last week, the Pedigree Poultry farm, about 40 kilometres north of Regina,
reported it had avian flu. While not the deadly H5N1 that first jumped from
chickens to humans in Hong Kong in 1997, the strain is the highly pathogenic

U.S. border agents seize hunters' birds amid Canada's bird flu scare

U.S. Customs officials in Minnesota and North Dakota seized more than 4,100
birds from hunters re-entering the United States from Canada following an
outbreak of avian flu at a commercial chicken farm near Regina, Canada.

10/2 Good to see some R-5 folks will be heading back east for this important day. letterman

Date: September 25, 2007
Subject: Attendance at National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Memorial Weekend
To: Regional Forester, R-5, Station Director, PSW

Your request for approval to designate multiple employees to attend the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Memorial Weekend activities in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and to provide compensation for travel and per diem is approved. Tom Harbour, National Director for Fire and Aviation Management will contact you with the requested job and override codes.

/s/ Abigail R. Kimbell

cc: Tom Harbour
James E Hubbard
10/2 laid off

OK ok What is wrong here? Is there a problem with people working year 'round? If one job cant satisfy the momentery needs that one has to themselves and their family, then what is wrong with finding another job or more work? I kind of take it personally when someone is expecting unemployment. It is meant to help someone out until they find other employment. Not as a fall back every winter. We need to take a deep look and think about why some us in this line of work are whining about lack of pay and seasonal work! Do you hear a school teacher complain when summer comes around? Most of the time I would venture NO. They look forward to the break, especially if they have budgeted their money, and if they are short or perhaps bored, they find summer employment (some of them as fellow FF). Other people from other professions read this board, lets not give them the impression that we are all whiners!,but rather winners. If the pay isn't good enough, move! change profes sions! We all have to be responsible to our families and society. (ps don't become a contractor as even though the daily rate may seem high from the outside... it is only TEMPORARY work at best and we are to say the least very disliked by our southern R5 brothers) When one becomes a Contractor or AD it is known to ourselves that fire is not our main source of income. ok I will try not to make this a contractor vent. But guys, all I see lately is we don't get paid enough or we don't get respect or we don't get enough assignments or enough hours, well welcome to the real world.
Bummed the rains have come but now I get to go on to other adventures in life.

Only a little vent, eh? Ab.

10/2 Hello,

My husband is a firefighter on Engine <snip> in The Sierras, and there was a poem
that someone had that we enjoyed reading. Can you send me a copy of it ? It
is called "One more time" by Oliver.

Thanks !


Here it is: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2003_n_before/jomt.php Ab.

10/2 Good article in the New York Times about a lookout in California:


(registration may be required to read this article; it is free to do so.)


I didn't have to sign in. Maybe tomorrow. Ab.

10/2 I am on a Northern R-5 forest. The statement that Overit makes is also true here and it is
to apply to 1039 employees who choose to leave early. No unemployment benefits will be
given for early outs. This is not a new policy. The agency has always been able to exercise
the two pay period extension for 13/13 employees.

Just Another Digger
10/2 I am concerned with something my (R5) forest management recently brought to my attention.

My supervisor told me that the overhead has decided this year that the 13/13's WILL work 2 pay periods past their commitment. If they decide to be laid off at that time it will be on their terms and they would not be granted unemployment benefits. If asked by the unemployment office, they would tell them that there was funding and work on the forest.

Is this what is happening everywhere? I know some years there is not enough money in the budget to even think about keeping us on through the winter. But this year there seems to be enough money so all of a sudden we have to go home and tell our wives;

"Hey hon, you know all of that time I promised you and the kids in the winter, because I had neglected you so much in the summer? Well too bad cause I'm being bullied into working all winter."

There are few reasons for me to stay with this agency but one of the biggest ones was that I could have a 13-13 appointment with benefits and get laid off for the winter. That certainly made up for the complaint less commitment I give them all fire season. This is opposite of what they told me when they talked me into signing on perm/seasonal.

Any input would be appreciated.


I'd be curious to know if other regions have the same regulations. Is this national policy? Ab.

10/2 NFFE News Release
Contact: Randy Erwin, NFFE Legislative Director

Senate Adopts Significant A-76 Reform

Washington, DC – Late yesterday, the United States Senate adopted an amendment to the fiscal year 2008 Defense Authorization bill that would make several revisions to the A-76 public-private competition process. Together, these changes would do much to level the playing field for federal workers when competing against private contractors for the same government work. The amendment was sponsored by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and had 10 cosponsors. The amendment passed with a 51-44 vote. The Senate later passed the Defense Authorization bill as amended by a 92-3 vote.

The A-76 amendment would do the following:

  • Exclude health care and retirement costs from the A-76 cost comparison process.
  • Eliminate automatic recompetition of work performed by federal employees under A-76.
  • Establish equitable appeal rights for all federal employees.
  • Eliminate OMB outsourcing quotas.
  • Require the establishment of guidance to allow federal employees to compete for new work.
  • Establish in law a competition requirement for non-DoD agencies which is identical to what is permanent law for DoD.

“The rules governing A-76 have not been fair to federal workers,” said NFFE President Richard N. Brown. “These changes will do a lot to eliminate some of the egregious advantages contractors enjoy when competing against federal employees for government work.”

“We are happy to see that the Senate did not back away from addressing this important issue,” said Brown. “When contractors are given an unfair advantage over federal workers, it is the tax-payers that pay for it in the end. The playing field should be level.”


10/2 Viejo:

The Southern Area Coord. Center's website provides a list of incidents for
one of our three teams going back to 1986.


I have no idea if the team existed before that. I found no list of
incidents for the other teams. Unfortunately history is often quickly

10/2 Sedgehead...thank you for the response on the number of persons on a team.

That lead me to another question...does anyone recall when the first teams were
organized? I think the CDF first embraced the team concept in 1986 or 87...years
after the USFS had been using teams.


10/2 Ab,

In addition to Jim Ott's contributions, another early Internet pioneer was Jeff Pope, former WEBM on CIIMT 3. His Old Fire documentation CD from 2003 set the standard which few have matched. Speaking of early Internet technology pioneers.... when did Original Ab first launch wildlandfire.com? Did he ever use it for on-going incident status information dissemination from the field similar to the 2006 Ken Perry run? The Hotlist has got to be unique; I can't recall ever seeing fire reporting as timely on any other website.

When I looked at the Butler2 Fire perimeter file, something very familiar caught my attention along the west flank. It aligns perfectly with the Willow Fire scar from eight years ago. See attached. I love this stuff!

Fire Geek


I agree on Jeff's contributions... Ab.

10/2 On behalf of our members on the San Bernardino National Forest, I'd like to take
this opportunity to thank those of you from the wildland firefighting community including
those from CAL-FIRE and San Bernardino County Fire who took the time to visit
those injured on the rollover.

Speaking to the crew's supervisor it is clear that injuries could have been much worse
and we are all thankful that those who were injured will recover relatively quickly.

Thanks again,

Casey Judd
Business Manager

10/2 Photo

Helicopter 534 crew buggy

The cab broke loose on the way down the hill. The crew box stopped
facing up sitting on the back doors.



Glad people were. Ab.

10/2 Viejo asked:

"...how many people ( including trainees) are mobilized . . ." with a Type I or Type II team.

Based on my experience with the SE USA (Southern Area Coordination Center http://gacc.nifc.gov/sacc/) we tend to mobilize about 40 people with a type II team and a few more with a type I team. The team rosters list 38-40 positions (plus alternates and trainees). The rosters are online as follows, with the Blue and Red teams being Type I and the new Purple team Type II:

http://gacc.nifc.gov/sacc/logistics/overhead/teams/Blue_team.PDF (pdf file)

http://gacc.nifc.gov/sacc/logistics/overhead/teams/red_team.PDF (pdf file)

http://gacc.nifc.gov/sacc/logistics/overhead/teams/purple_team.pdf (pdf file)

10/2 Hello Ab!

Just a quick post about how things went in Sun Valley/Ketchum at the “Kick Ash Bash”. We haven’t heard yet how much the concert brought in, but it was announced that two insurance companies would be donating money. Burk (WFF Staff) and Jim Felix (WFF Board) were able to get backstage and deliver information about the Foundation and a thank you memento to all three musicians: Bruce Willis, Carole King, and Steve Miller.

We had a booth in town on Saturday, then we moved inside the concert venue. I believe nearly 7,500 tickets were sold. The music was very good and even the weather held out pretty well – didn’t get near as cold as they thought it would. We had great “vendor” neighbors who shared their heater, beer, wine, and brots!

I had someone (still not sure who it was) call the Foundation office toward the beginning of the concert (phones are forwarded to me after hours for emergency purposes). He kept yelling at me that we were getting money from the concert. I said “Yes, I know – where are you (lots of noise in the background)?” His response “in Ketchum at the concert.” I said, “So am I, who is this?” Never did figure out who it was but it was great to know we had firefighters in the audience keeping us informed.

Jeanne Pincha-Tulley has quite a following of fans in Ketchum! She was invited onstage at the beginning of the concert and received a standing ovation (well, in all fairness, the concert was standing only – no lawn chairs allowed). She was wonderful and very complimentary to the Foundation and what we do for the wildland firefighting community.

All in all, it was a great weekend and an awesome fundraiser. Thanks to everyone who purchased tickets and helped support this effort. We’ll let everyone know how we faired from the benefit as soon as we know.

Melissa Schwagerl
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Fantastic news. Ab.

10/2 Interesting article on msn.com. Here's the link.... "Firefighters Hesitating to Risk Lives"



Same as the article below...

10/2 Haven't read it yet, and not sure how you can post it, but it's a headliner on MSNBC.com



Cool pic. Ab.

10/2 bushman82

Another smokejumper that had a fairly cool job after.


10/1 Hey all,

I gave the WFF a call today to make sure they were in the loop on the crew haul rollover. They were.

It is always reassuring to find them informed. Burk was ready to spring into action if needed.

Which brings me to Ken's run...

I hope we can get behind this man's effort and his personal commitment to support the Foundation every year. We need projects like Ken's annual mega run, in addition to the other fundraisers. The WFF needs money in its coffers just in case we need it to help our families. It's a great thing when no one is killed. It's a greater thing when no one is hurt. Please pledge for Ken's run or donate today.

Ken, you desertrunnerdude [Hotlist Forum moniker], what did you do today? How are your plans going? It's almost incomprehensible that you're going to be running in sand. Hope you know what that's like.


Way to donate or pledge
Pledge list to track donations

Ken's Hotlist thread: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1986

10/1 To: Mellie on 9/28

Yes there were jumpers prior to the US starting WW2. I recently Read an article in
Fire Management Today from this fall about smokejumpers. My question to the group
is does any one know of any historical documents about Major William Lee who went
on to be General and commanded the 101st Division? He appears in early
Smokejumpers stories.



10/1 I'm curious...how many people ( including trainees) are mobilized when a USFS or CDF Type 1 IMT is launched ?

I understand that Type 2 teams are often requested to an incident before a Type 1 team simply for faster response. Does a Type 2 team have fewer positions?

thanks viejo

T2 teams are also often called because of less complexity as well. Ab.

10/1 Hey Mellie and Tahoe Terrie:

The Willow Fire discussion brought back some great memories. I had the distinct pleasure to work with Joe Stutler's Team and my experience with Doug Parker convinced me that he is, without a doubt, the most creative, forward-thinking fire webmaster on any Incident Management Team. If you look at the innovative web content design in the archives on PNW Team 3's homepage ( starting with Willow, you'll see a progressive use of technology improvements that pushed the limits of available bandwidth and displayed needed information in a manner that made it fun to follow the PNW Team 3 assignments. It's too bad that we lost that with Inciweb.

I have secret to share with Tahoe Terrie that may make a good fire technology history trivia question. The first fire incident website, as we know them today, occurred a full year before the Willow Fire website went live. It was known as the "F-project" and the fires were the Banner Queen Rx Fire; which was converted to the Chariot wildfire when the prescribed fire escaped in June 1998 near Julian, CA and the Stonewall Fire in August of that year in Pinnacles National Monument, CA.


Fire Geek

Oh well, maybe that one was too "secret" a project. I really think Jim Ott the webmaster for CIIMT 1 was one of the most innovative early web people. He didn't have a project, he just did it and taught himself as he did. Ab.

10/1 CA-BDF-Crew Buggy rollover on Highway 18 (Rim of the World Highway)


10/1 ML and Tahoe Terrie,

Here's one old article on the Willow:
California blaze contained, but fire scorches merchants' wallets

Joe Stutler, a commander with the U.S. Forest Service, told them that with so many wildfires burning throughout the West, firefighters and equipment had been scarce. Nevertheless, they saved 1,950 structures in the San Bernardino Mountains, he said.

Also archived Willow Fire PNW Team 3 website:


PS. So sorry to hear about the crew buggy rollover. Thoughts and prayers for all involved.

10/1 Re: Willow Fire and internet coverage, 1999

Tahoe Terrie is correct, the Willow Fire was assigned to PNW IMT3 with Joe
Stutler as IC. Doug Parker was (and still is) the team web master who took us
into the electronic age as a primary conduit for communicating with the public.


10/1 Re: IC Age

Tahoe Terrie,

I was 45 years old when I got the Type I IMT IC position. The Great Basin
only has a commitment for 3 years. It used to be 5 years. After next year,
my 3 year commitment is up. So I might be the youngest to retire from
the Type I IC group. We will see who wants to send in a nomination. If
someone else gets selected, I always enjoyed being a DIVS, so I think
that's were I will end up. Yeah, I think a free lancing DIVS would be right
up my alley.


10/1 Ab,

I was looking at some old photos of the Willow Fire near Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear in 1999 and it looks like fire camp was in the same location as the Butler 2 firecamp. www.sbcecs.org/willow/willowp2.php ( home for the incident page www.sbcecs.org/willow/willow1.php ) The webcam at Snow Valley Base Camp for the Butler 2 showed the same ski run and tents... ( /hotlist/showpost.php?p=10168&postcount=101 )

It seems to me that the Willow Fire was the first that had serious internet coverage with maps, press releases, closures, and evac info. Just after that the Big Bar Complex and I think the Kirk also had some internet coverage, but the Willow was the first, was it Stutler's PNW Team 3 on the Willow?

Who did the internet stuff? I remember Doug Parker (PNW Team 3) was on the Big Bar and did some of the same and told us about how amazing it was to provide info that way. Tom Lavagnino was PIO on loan from the ORCA Team to PNW 3 toward the end of the fire and he collected some photos etc of the Big Bar that got put online. Don't think there's any record now.

Tahoe Terrie

From Hotlist thread: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=10714#post10714

10/1 A little end of season humor.


With all the posts the last few weeks about Hotshot crews and IRC crews and whatnot, I'm surprised that no one ever heard of the "original" hotshot crew, from the 1930's. I didn't do a lot of research on them, but I don't think any became an IC.


Tool Pusher

HAW HAW, Tool Pusher, Gil might have made it as a firefighting hotshot. The air guitar... Ab.

10/1 Re: IC Age


OK, I think Rowdy has me beat, I was 49 when I became Type 1 IC
qualified, I am now 51. It is good, as Rowdy can now keep going long after
the rest of us are gone!



10/1 7 minute You Tube video of the Cascade Complex ICP burnover. Might want to turn down the sound.

Cascade Complex camp "burn around" Aug 13, 2007
From: geostrophic
Posted: August 17, 2007
Views as of this posting: 1,067

(Warning: one obscenity at the beginning before the fire sound gets so loud all you hear is the fire sound. Ab.)

Historical thread on this burnover on the Hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1496
Discussion thread is here, but you have to send comments to Ab to be posted: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=1529

10/1 From MG

Charge: Teacher started Lick Fire (the one that burned Henry W. Coe State Park in Santa Clara County)

Burning Trash Ignited Huge Blaze, Prosecutors Say

. . . The blaze, which whipped through the steep canyons and rugged ridgelines of South County before moving into Henry W. Coe State Park, eventually cost the state $13 million to battle. It's a price that Pavese may have to help bear if she is found to be responsible for starting the fire. A judge ultimately would decide how much she would pay, based on her income.

"She may have to pay the Department of Revenue for the rest of her life," Carrubba said.

Pavese, charged Tuesday with a misdemeanor count of failing to exercise reasonable care in the disposal of flammable materials to prevent causing an uncontrolled fire, also faces six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. . .

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